ELIZABETH, NJ — A new and improved parking deck serving the Union County Courthouse is officially in the works.

The plan to replace the aging Union County Courthouse parking deck at Elizabethtown Plaza and Caldwell Place comes after the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders on June 18 authorizing the hiring of the construction management firm Lehrer Cumming to oversee demolition of the existing parking deck and construction of a new one on the same site. The freeholders awarded a $1.48 million contract to the Cranford based firm for the project, the resolution shows. 

“We are going to demolish or tear down the current deck and build a new deck in the same spot,” said County Manager Edward Oatman on Friday. The new structure will provide more parking and be easier to navigate, he said.

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“With modern technology and design, it should make the experience of entering and exiting much easier,” Oatman added. He estimated that the new parking deck would be completed by late 2022 or early 2023.

Details such as the size of the structure and the number of parking spots have yet to be determined, according to Oatman, who said the plan is in its early stages. The next step, he said, will be to hire an architect and an engineer to design the project.

“We currently have request for proposals out to select an architect and an engineer, and they will work together on plans and renderings for the new deck,” Oatman said.

Addressing the county freeholders last month, Oatman said demolishing the existing deck, which is over 50 years old, and erecting a new structure right next to the county courthouse will require what Oatman called an “elaborate demolition.”

On Friday, Oatman spoke in more detail the need for the new deck.

“The deck is old. It’s on a busy road during the work week and it’s attached and connects to the courthouse,” Oatman said. “So trying to demolish a building in a tight location with all the things going on is a little bit of a challenge.

“We have to be mindful of the geography and also all the buildings in the area that we don’t impact the roads so people can get to the courthouse, the prosecutor’s office and the administration building,” Oatman said.

The Union County deck provides parking for many of the county’s employees who work within the county complex. This collection of government buildings includes the county courthouse located at 2 Broad Street and the Union County Administrative building at 10 Elizabethtown Plaza.

Oatman explained the county launched a parking study last winter ahead of the resolution passed on June 18. The study indicated it would be possible to provide alternate parking for county employees at the J. Christian Bollwage Parking Garage at 37 Caldwell Plaza, Oatman said.

The Bollwage Garage is located right next the county courthouse parking deck.

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