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Tour The New & Improved Broward County Courthouse

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FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) — It’s a new courthouse that can’t come soon enough!

The new and improved Broward county courthouse is 20 floors high, designed as a “green” building, with more than double courtroom capacity with 70 courtrooms and is built to calm people who come inside to face the judge. It’s nearly two thirds complete.

“They’ll be able to look out. They’ll see an amazing view. It’s an amazing view from up high,” said Assistant Broward County Public Works Director Steve Hammond. “They can see Fort Lauderdale, the ocean and hopefully that will be a thing that works to calm them down.”

The sparkling new building will replace the hulking heap next to it. Some call the old courthouse a “vintage 1950’s building that’s outlived its expiration date.

“People who work in here call it a molding, leaking mess. “It’s definitely a 1950’s building!” said Hammond. “And it’s showing its age. Every bit of the mechanical system, the plumbing, the air conditioning, the rain comes in. It’s past its prime! It’s completely past its life span.”

Pipes are bursting more often inside the old courthouse, making for indoor rain storms that have ruined files, shorted out computers and fried phone systems. Employees complain they have health problems because of the dilapidated old building.

“This building is full of mold and mildew,” said Chief Judge Peter Weinstein. “If I go away for a few days, I notice I’m not sniffling anymore.”

Even Judge Weinstein’s not immune to the problems, like rats! He has traps in his chambers.

“I was able to give you a little tour of my rat traps that are in this building,” he told CBS 4’s Ted Scouten. “We have visitors. I’m very grateful none have been caught in my office.”

After the tower is complete, the old courthouse will be ripped down, and replaced with a 500 space garage and a plaza.

One of the more interesting features will be on the back side – a serious of connector bridges linking all the buildings in the courthouse complex.

Judges, jail inmates and the public will all have dedicated hallways – so they’ll never meet outside the courtroom.

“It’s three different circulations,” explained Project Manage Jorge Perez, “totally separated, no conflict, people are not mixing with each other.”

The exterior of the new building should be complete in the next two months. The tower is scheduled to open next summer. By next fall the demolition of the old courthouse will begin.

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