Barletta: Harrisburg Courthouse Moves to #1 on Priority List
WASHINGTON – Congressman Lou Barletta (PA-11) today confirmed that the long-awaited federal courthouse in Harrisburg has been installed formally as the top priority for the judiciary. The judiciary’s Committee on Space and Facilities has ranked the project as the number one item on the construction list – a decision which has been approved by the Judicial Conference of the United States, the governing body of the judiciary chaired by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts. The ascension of Harrisburg to the top slot is further indication that the courthouse project will become a reality.
Barletta has pushed for the project as Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management. He has worked closely with Judge D. Brooks Smith, Chief Judge of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, who had been Chairman of the Committee on Space and Facilities until October 1, 2016. Barletta has also been in close contact with Judge Christopher Conner, Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. Congress formally appropriates the money for courthouse construction and renovation, but traditionally defers to the judiciary to set the priority order.
“Each bit of good news brings us closer to the day when we can cut the ribbon and open the new courthouse,” Barletta said. “The new courthouse will be an important new facility for Harrisburg, as it will serve as a hub of activity and drive new economic development for the area. I am proud to have been working on this project for a number of years, and I commend Judge Smith, Judge Conner, all of the members of the judiciary, and everyone in Harrisburg who has worked so hard to make the courthouse possible.”
“The rigorous analysis that the judiciary applies to ranking courthouse projects that most merit Congressional funding has resulted in Harrisburg as the top priority for Fiscal Year 2018,” said Judge Smith. “As the former chair of the Judicial Conference's Space and Facilities Committee, I am grateful for the generous support Congress has demonstrated for our courthouse needs; and as the Chief Judge of the Third Circuit, I am pleased that the Harrisburg community can look forward to having a modern and secure courthouse to serve its needs.”
“We are thrilled,” said Judge Conner. “We thank Congressman Barletta for his unwavering support of this important project, and we look forward to the construction of a courthouse that will represent the very best of our federal courthouse facilities.”
In September 2016, Barletta had announced that the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee had authorized a total of $194,444,000 for the Harrisburg Courthouse. The final step will be the actual appropriation of the funds, a process which will not begin until at least the new year. The amount includes $29.5 million appropriated in Fiscal Year 2016 for partial funding of feasibility studies and preparation work in addition to earlier funding in 2004 of $26 million.
The Harrisburg project includes the design and construction of a courthouse of approximately 243,000 square feet and an estimated 43 parking spaces. The building will contain as many as eight courtrooms, including three for District Judges, two for Senior District Judges, two for Magistrate Judges, and one for Bankruptcy Judges. There had been initial discussions of constructing only an annex to the existing courthouse, but that idea has been shelved in favor of an entirely new courthouse.