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The Gallatin County Commission approved $1.04 million in spending Tuesday to complete design and construction plans for the new Law and Justice Center.

The approval brings the total amount spent on the project to about $1.7 million. The county previously spent $662,350 for early design plans before voters in November approved a $29 million bond to pay for the project.

Gallatin County Chief Operations Officer Nick Borzak said that this was the final payment before construction officially begins for the project.

“This money will take us right through bidding, construction and final inspections for the new building,” Borzak said.

The money is going to the county’s design team, composed of ThinkOne Architects, Denver-based Anderson Mason Dale Architects and Morrison-Maierle for all engineering aspects of the project — like plumbing, fire and electrical.

Borzak said that the county has worked with that design team before on a previous version of the Law and Justice Center project. The county asked voters to pay for a $59 million bond to build a 127,000-square-foot courts facility in 2019, which failed.

The $29 million bond that passed this year will see taxpayers paying for the construction of a single-story, 57,000-square-foot facility to house the 18th Judicial District Court serving Gallatin County, including the three current judges and a fourth newly appointed judge.

The county is on schedule for the project, Borzak said. The project is planned to be bid in different chunks, and that first step of construction could be ready for bid by March 2022.

That first round of work would be getting the site ready for large-scale construction. That includes placing utilities underground, building new access roads and creating a new parking lot.

The existing visitor parking lot to the west of the building — which is planned to be replaced by the parking lot built in the first part of the project — is planned to be transformed into a construction yard. Work on that portion of the project could begin in July 2022, Borzak said.

Martell Construction, of Bozeman, is the construction manager for the project. The company will be in charge of setting up construction fences and laying the foundation for the building, Borzak said. It will also be tasked with creating a construction schedule for the project.

One aspect of that schedule will be to determine how long Judge John Brown’s modular courtroom will be left standing. Borzak said the county would try to hang onto the modular addition to the Law and Justice Center as long as possible.

“And then we’re going to reach a point where it just has to go away, so we’re just demolishing it,” Borzak said.

Despite the upcoming construction, the Law and Justice Center will “operate just like it always has” until the county moves into the new building, Borzak said.

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Alex Miller is the county and state government reporter and can be reached at amiller@dailychronicle.com or by phone at 406-582-2648.

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