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June 14, 2021

San Benito courthouse construction to begin soon

Construction on the new $36 million San Benito County Courthouse on Fourth Street is “imminent,” with activity expected on the long-vacant three-acre site expected within the next few weeks, according to court officials.

The construction manager will have a pre-construction meeting with trade contractors and subcontractors in early March, with site preparation beginning thereafter.

“You’ll start seeing trailers and general site preparation” within the next couple of months, said Gil Solorio, executive officer for the local superior court.

The 41,500-square-foot structure will include space for three courtrooms, a jury assembly room, a centrally located public counter for civil and criminal issues, family court services, court administration, security operations, a holding area, and facility support space.

The project also will include surface parking for jurors and visitors, secured parking for judicial officers, and a secure sally port for transportation of in-custody detainees.

The construction timeline is 16 to 18 months, Solorio said.

The project had been in a holding pattern as court officials awaited the issuance of state construction bonds that are being used to finance the project.

“The financing is in order and the project is going forward,” he said.

While construction is going on, the current courthouse across the street from the project site will be fully operational.

“We’ll be in this spot (on Fifth Street) with full service to the public up until the point that we are ready to move,” Solorio said. “We cannot shut down, so we’re going to have to schedule the move in a way that doesn’t impact public service.”

Court officials have been in contact with the City of Hollister to ensure that traffic impacts are mitigated during construction.

“There will be slight traffic matters,” Solorio said. “Kitchell (the construction management company) is talking to the City of Hollister about developing traffic plans that will attempt to mitigate as much as possible any conflict with normal, everyday traffic. The city is rightfully concerned about that.”

The current plan is to have equipment and trucks access the site from Third Street rather than the more heavily-traveled Fourth Street, according to Solorio, “to minimize the impact on traffic.”

The project may also co-opt some of the parking spaces adjacent to the construction site on Third and Monterey streets for the staging of trucks and equipment – though those arrangements have not yet been finalized with the city.

Solorio has notified Gavilan College that trade contractors and subcontractors may park their personal vehicles in the parking garage that also houses the college’s Hollister site.

“This may or may not reduce the availability of parking slots for current users of the parking garage,” he said.

Rumors that a pedestrian underpass under Fourth Street near the current courthouse site to the new location would be filled in are not true, Solorio said.

“We have no plans to affect the underpass through this project,” he said. “The State of California has no authority over that underpass.”

Asked if the recent water main break on Fourth Street near the courthouse construction site was a concern for project developers, Solorio said, “not at the moment.”

“Obviously, we have tie-ins that need to be completed during construction,” so those issues will be addressed at that time.

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