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New federal courthouse in Harrisburg continues in limbo until at least fall

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The new federal courthouse site as it looked in summer 2013.
The new federal courthouse site as it looked in summer 2013. - (Photo / )

It's been a decade since Congress allocated $26 million for site acquisition and design of a new federal courthouse at Sixth and Reily streets in midtown Harrisburg.

It will be at least a few more months before the federal courts wrap up a new process to determine courthouse construction priorities and present a revised plan to Congress, said U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, R-York County.

“In recent months, the federal courts have agreed to put the projects on their five-year plan through the new vetting process recommended by GAO,” he said via email, referring to the Government Accountability Office. “This review of all existing courthouse projects should be completed in the coming months. After analysis and scoring, the new plan should be unveiled sometime this fall and will be reviewed by Congress.”

Last spring, the GAO recommended a moratorium on new federal courthouse projects until the 12 courthouses on the judiciary’s list were reevaluated to ensure it was fiscally responsible to pursue them.

Harrisburg is one of the 12 national projects and the only one from Pennsylvania.

The judiciary had previously submitted a five-year plan to Congress, proposing $1 billion in courthouse construction. The GAO concluded it would cost at least $3.2 billion to cover the five-year plan when considering all project phases and future rent payments.

The GAO also said that 10 of the 12 projects on that plan did not have a sufficient number of additional courtrooms — at least two more than the current facility — to qualify for new construction. Harrisburg was one of the 10, according to the GAO report.

The 265,000-square-foot courthouse proposed for midtown, which is slated to cost about $109 million, would replace the current courthouse at Third and Walnut streets in downtown Harrisburg.

“I’ll continue to work with local officials and my colleagues in Congress to try to balance the merits of the Harrisburg courthouse project with our need to be better stewards of tax dollars,” Perry said, citing national debt of more than $17 trillion.

John Rizzo, a spokesman for Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, also said he expects the courthouse construction review will be completed in the fall.

“From there, we will see where Harrisburg is on the priority list. It’s something Casey will continue pushing on,” Rizzo said.

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Jason Scott

Jason Scott

Jason Scott covers state government, real estate and construction, media and marketing, and Dauphin County. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at Follow him on Twitter, @JScottJournal. Circle Jason Scott on .

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