"This is a magnificent structure," she said. "I think it is a great honor to have a courthouse of this magnitude."
The four-story, 154,000-square-foot Rush H. Limbaugh Sr. Federal Courthouse includes a view of the Mississippi River and the Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge, named for Emerson's late husband. A wall of windows along a fourth-floor corridor that serves two large federal courtrooms offers a panoramic view.
(Diane L. Wilson)
"They wanted the public to be able to see the vista of the Mississippi River," Scott said. "The courthouse, we believe, reflects Cape Girardeau very well."
Cy Houston, director of the GSA's project management division in Kansas City, Mo., said modern federal courthouses are complex buildings that feature separate areas for the judges, prisoners and the public.
Houston said the public only has access to about a third of the building.
The federal courthouse is "substantially complete," Scott told reporters and others on the tour even as interior work continued on one of the building's three courtrooms.
The U.S. Marshals Service will move into the building first for security reasons, Scott said. "The Marshals Service will do a shakedown starting May 20," he said. "It is about a 30-day shakedown."
Other federal agencies are expected to start moving into the building in late June. The federal courts should be in operation by July, Scott said.
Emerson, Bond and U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill will have offices on the main floor of the courthouse, just off the towering lobby with its four-story, domed atrium.
Emerson said she and her staff likely won't move into the new courthouse until August.
Scott and Emerson said the new courthouse has overcome everything from design hurdles to most recently the replacement of defective carpet.
But Scott said the courthouse, named for the late Cape Girardeau lawyer Rush H. Limbaugh Sr., is a state-of-the-art facility.
The courtrooms will have high-tech tables and a high-tech podium for lawyers so they can electronically offer trial exhibits and documents on computer monitors. The jury boxes will be outfitted with computer monitors so jurors easily can view the exhibits and documents.
"You can do basically a paperless trial," said assistant U.S. attorney Larry Ferrell as he toured one of the spacious courtrooms.
Scott said the new courthouse is solidly anchored to withstand a major earthquake.
"If the big one hits, the soil will sink and this building will be standing tall," he said.
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