Harris County voters in 2007 approved bonds to fund construction of a new family law center, but instead the family courts were moved to the Civil Courthouse. Suddenly, the number of visitors to the Civil Courthouse quadrupled. Worse, all but two of the family courts were put at the top of the building, on the 15th and 16th floors. Now, we are all going to pay the price for this poor planning for months because of elevator problems. Six elevators serve floors 8 – 17 and six elevators serve floor 2- 8. All public elevators and the one freight elevator serve the basement and the first floor. The one freight elevator serves all floors. Judges and court staff have private elevators.
Recently, three of the six public elevators that serve the upper floors where most of the family courts are have been out of operation. This week, even the freight elevator went out.
Judge David Farr sent this announcement out last week:
I know that there has been tremendous frustration with the status of the elevators at 201 Caroline so I am sending this update in order to bring you collectively current on that issue. Harris County is undergoing a modernization of all 6 elevators to floors 8 to 17 in the Civil Courthouse. That means they are replacing equipment, such as drives, controls, electronics, cables, etc. The Harris County Commissioners Court voted yesterday to bypass the bid process and to go directly to Otis Elevator to begin this process. It will take approximately 16 weeks to manufacture and deliver the new equipment. Once the new equipment is delivered, it will take an estimated 6 months to complete the installation (March 2018). The work will be done 2 elevators at a time. If they can do 3 at a time they will. Because of the problems with the upper level elevators the freight elevator has been used for the general public during the highest traffic period of 7:30 am to 9:30 am. Unfortunately, the freight elevator sustained water damage last week due to a relief valve that failed. The parts to repair this elevator have been delivered and it will take another 2 weeks (estimated) to complete that repair. The good news is that there will be newly repaired (and different brand of) elevators this time next year. Meanwhile, we will continue to use the freight elevator when available so please be mindful of delays as to your arrival times for dockets and as to late calls to the courts. Thank you for your patience as the county works through these issues.
Our staffs need to warn clients and witnesses about these delays. Lawyers might as well just call in late every time in advance if their court appearances at 9:00 a.m. are at the top of the Civil Courthouse. One alternative is to take the working elevators to the 8th floor and then take the stairs to the 15th or 16th. Opening an oxygen tank dispensary at the landing of the 11th and 14th floors is looking like a viable business opportunity.