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Friday, Oct. 24, 2014

Expense of new courthouse is high

Tuesday, July 16, 2002

I know very little about construction costs but I do know that $285 per square foot for construction of the new federal courthouse in Cape Girardeau is a hefty price tag by any estimate. The per square foot charge is well above the $195 per square foot charge for the massive new federal courthouse in St. Louis. So why the expense?

Well designers point to the need for extra security features in the wake of the federal courthouse bombing in Oklahoma City. And they say that the earthquake features boost the cost even higher. With a $50 million-plus price tag, we can expect the new Cape facility to be among the best in the nation. It's square footage charge most certainly will be among the highest.

I'm supportive of the new courthouse and who wouldn't be. This region needs top notch facilities as much as St. Louis or Kansas City. It's just the price that gets your attention.

I hear that about a half million dollar design was rejected on the new courthouse. But of course, the fee was charged and paid nonetheless. Maybe that's just the way the federal government goes about conducting business. And maybe that's why some of our economy is in the dumps.

I can't help but wonder if all of the earthquake precautions are truly essential. I know we live in this earthquake-prone area and doomsday prophets have predicted the "big one" for years now. I even agree that the day will come when that major quake strikes. But if this region spends billions and billions on earthquake prevention I guess we'll not know if it's money well-spent until that fateful day arrives. Someone a whole lot smarter could arrive at some calculation to answer that question. In the meantime, we just spend more money.

Maybe it should cost almost $300 per square foot to construct a federal building. But then again, in tough economic times, maybe we could cut some corners that would offer the public the same protections and safety without some of the bells and whistles. Then again, maybe not.

Isn't it somewhat ironic that we're spending all of these funds on a facility that we hope we'll never step foot in?



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