By Kim West
ATHENS — Rainy days will no longer pose a problem for the occupants of the Limestone County Courthouse as new windows are scheduled for installation in early December.
The window installation is part of an estimated $2 million courthouse renovation project being overseen by the Athens construction firm Martin & Cobey, Inc.
McInerney & Associates of Nashville was awarded the renovation’s first project with a low bid of $305,800 in early June. The initial budget to replace the windows was $350,000.
Martin & Cobey previously constructed the Clinton Street annex and Limestone County Sheriff’s Office for the county.
The firm is currently the project manager for the new Hartselle High School and the Lawrence County judicial annex, and it also worked on the Coosa County Courthouse this summer.
“The windows are supposed to be on the project site Dec. 11,” said Brian Moore, president of Martin & Cobey. “We wanted to wait until after the (Christmas) parade, and it will take about three weeks to install them.”
The current courthouse windows were installed in the 1970s. Those windows do not have insulated glass and leak badly, but the new ones will be insulated and provide much better soundproofing, according to Moore.
“The new windows will have insulated glass and frames,” he said. “They will improve the sound transmittance in the courthouse and provide much better temperature and moisture control.”
McInerney & Associates came to the project site and took out one window to double-check the sizing before the window order was placed, Moore said.
The courthouse has progressively taller windows beginning with the ground floor, and the third-floor ceilings are even higher than the first and second floors.
“It will take about three weeks to install them, and they will fit exactly in the holes already there,” he said. “The windows in the courthouse are primarily three sizes, and right now the windows leak badly, especially in Judge (Robert) Baker’s office — it just pours in there when it rains from the west. We’re going to make sure we have the building weather-tight.”
The county commission approved Martin & Cobey as construction manager for the courthouse renovations in October 2011 and Montgomery-based 2WR as the project architect in January this year.
Martin & Cobey will bid out projects for the many aspects of the renovations, including plumbing, electrical and painting.
“We expect the mechanical and engineering plans to be complete before Christmas,” Moore said. “We’ll have a round of coordination to make sure they match up with the architectural and structural plans, and then we will put the projects out to bid.”
Moore said the letting of the bids would be publicized locally and statewide. Because of the nature of the project — a renovation to a building in use rather than a brand-new building — bidders will have extra time to compile their bids.
“We will follow the public bid law of Alabama, which says that anything over $50,000 has to be advertised in a local paper and at least one statewide paper,” Moore said. “Since this project is tricky, we’ll give the bidders at least four weeks to look at the drawings before asking for prices. We’re going to break the project into multiple bid packages, and we won’t be able to determine the schedule until we get the full mechanical and engineering plans.
“We want this project to be as beneficial to the county as possible, give local companies the chance to participate and be as transparent as possible.”
A completion date has not been set for the project. Moore said the district attorney and courthouse judges have been accommodating about planning the project schedule around the court dockets.
“Every project is unique, and this being a renovation project there is a different timetable both in design and construction,” Moore said. “We’re being very discreet in discovery and throughout the process because it’s a beautiful building, and we need to be very careful with the design and structure.
“And there are so many events around the courthouse, and it’s very different than building a new structure in the middle of a field.”