Construction started for new Rock Island County courthouse

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ROCK ISLAND, Ill. (KWQC) - Construction is underway for the new Rock Island County Courthouse. Rock Island County Board member, Kai Swanson, said it's a project they have been working to implement for several years.

"Rock Island County faces a number of fiscal challenges and one of the most glaring was its courthouse," Swanson said. "Due to decades of a neglect and a lack of any deferred maintenance being done, it's literally falling apart"

The courthouse is over 100 years old and has suffered from neglected maintenance over the last few years. In its current condition, officials have deemed the building unsafe. Swanson said crumbling walls, undrinkable water and unstable architecture are putting the county and those that frequent the courthouse in jeopardy. Before the plans were approved, Swanson feared a lawsuit could cost the county more than it currently owes.

"One of those potential pitfalls, would have been a potential lawsuit on a life safety matter in relation to the courthouse," Swanson said. "By doing what we're doing now we've essentially taken out an insurance policy on that pitfall, but it's not to say that other pitfalls don't exist."

Last year the Rock Island County Board gave the the building commission permission to issue $28 million in bonds for the project. The new courthouse will house four courtrooms, judges' chambers, holding cells and offices for the circuit clerk and state's attorney. The project is set to be completed in the fall of 2018. A ground breaking date is set to take place sometime next month.