How would an escalator fit into a small, mostly flat, open-air courtyard outside Burlington County's courthouse? Without official answers, one can only speculate about the inclusion of an "escalator" in a planned $4.8 million renovation project.
Would it actually be a people-mover, which is also known as a flat escalator? There are only a few short staircases - each with only a handful or less steps - in the courtyard between the courthouse and the county administration building in Mount Holly. Which stairs would the escalate replace?
When county officials were asked about its length and the number of steps the proposed escalator would hold, an emailed reply was all that was offered: "It will be about 30' long," the county's spokeswoman said. No answer was given as to the number of steps. It's cost? "It is too early in the project to have a cost breakdown," came another reply.
As part of a courthouse security renovation project, the escalator was added in late December after the other plans were drafted. The county freeholders have approved "conceptual plans" provided by the architect, but not the final design. Calls were not returned by the freeholders or the architect.
The idea is to create a single entrance at the front of the county building, funnel visitors out the back, through the courtyard, and then into the adjacent seven-story courthouse. Multiple entrances would be closed and the courtyard would be walled in for security.
There are a total of four steps leading from the back of the county building to the courtyard. Would the escalator go there? Once you go up those steps, the courtyard is flat. But there's another way you could exit the county building. If you go out the back of the second floor elevator, you would descend five steps to get to a platform leading to the multi-leveled courtyard. (See photo). Then, you would have to walk a few feet before you reach a set of four steps that you would go up and that would take you into the heart of the courtyard and to the courthouse.
How would a 30-foot escalator go down and then up? Are we talking about a roller-coaster? Or would it just transport people onto a gradually descending moving sidewalk that levels out? Vertical Transportation Excellence, a Philadelphia-based firm that will be brought in as an escalator consultant, designs and maintains elevators, escalators and moving walks, according to its website.
If the project is approved, courthouse visitors may soon be taking a ride through the courtyard.