CROWN POINT | The public will have to work its way around a construction zone limiting access to the Lake County Government Complex's administration building for several months.
Hundreds who visit the county assessor, auditor, treasurer, recorder, health department, Plan Commission and several county courtrooms are confronting plywood blocking off the ground floor of a three-story atrium that once provided access to escalators that move the public from floor to floor.
The bottom-level escalators have been closed, and the ones between the second and third floor soon will be walled off as part of a $1.9 million energy-saving project to replace the 39-year-old escalators with an elevator and a central staircase.
Larry Blanchard, an administrative aide for the Board of Commissioners, said the escalators were a high-maintenance feature and a potential safety hazard.
The construction already is diverting visitors to the five Lake Superior courtrooms and clerk's office on the ground floor of the administration building. They are being directed from the second-floor east entrance to the first-floor south entrance of the building to avoid the shuttered escalators.
Public meetings of the County Council, the property tax board of appeals, Plan Commission and elections board will be held between April and June in the adjacent courts building auditorium.
The project also involves installing ceiling lights with movement sensors so they are off when the area is empty.