Local News

Slow Elevators At Wake Co. Courthouse Causing Delays, Some Say

Posted March 14, 2006 5:57 a.m. EST

— On his very first day on the bench, recently appointed Wake County District Court Judge Vince Rozier got stuck in an elevator at the Wake County Courthouse.

"We just sat for the next 20 minutes until the fire department came and got us out," Rozier said.

When the courthouse opened 35 years ago, no one expected the four elevators to be as crowded as they are today. Now, courthouse employees say people are having trouble getting where they need to go because of the elevators' age and speed.

"They're old -- built in 1970," said courthouse employee Bill Watkins. "Very old and slow."

Wake County Clerk of Superior Court Jan Pueschel says she's been stuck in the elevator twice.

Tired of the the situation, Wake County Clerk of Superior Court Jan Pueschel wrote a letter to The Raleigh

News & Observer

about it. Having been stuck in the elevator twice, Pueschel said the elevators are inefficient and a safety concern.

"Probably everybody who has worked in the courthouse once or twice has seen an almost-altercation fight because people are angry when an elevator comes and they can't get on it," Pueschel said.

State inspection records show that the elevators are in compliance with North Carolina's safety guidelines. They were put online in 1970 and 1971 and updated in 1995. Still, they only run at about 500 feet per minute -- about half as fast as an elevator in a modern high-rise building.

"You could modernize the elevators in the courthouse," said Jonathan Brooks, with the North Carolina Department of Labor. "They could look at that -- by all means, it would enhance the efficiency."

Maintained by Wake County, county leaders say there are no plans to modernize or replace the elevators in the courthouse right now because a criminal annex is set to open across the street in seven years.

One way the county is trying to do to help the busy elevators is by requiring all elevator maintenance to be performed at night so that all four elevators are always in service during business hours.