The $5.7 million Vine Street parking garage in Bridgeton is scheduled to open on Monday. Cumberland County officials said the 300-space facility will help ease horrible parking conditions for people visiting the county courthouse about a block away.

Staff photo by Thomas Barlas

BRIDGETON— Some longstanding parking problems around the Cumberland County courthouse should start to ease Monday.

That’s when the $5.7 million Vine Street parking garage is scheduled to open, although there is a ceremonial ribbon-cutting today involving county and other officials, county Assistant Administrator Kimberly Wood said.

The 300-space garage is located about a block from the county courthouse at Fayette and Broad streets, and is part of the project to convert the old Vine Street School into the new headquarters for the Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office.

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Eventually, the renovated facility will house most of the Prosecutor’s Office staff, now housed in four different buildings in Bridgeton.

The project to create a new headquarters for the Prosecutor’s Office was mandated by a Superior Court judge as part of a lawsuit settlement in 2005. Completion is running several years behind schedule.

As for the parking garage, the Cumberland County Board of Chosen Freeholders awarded the $5.7 million contract to low bidder Fitzpatrick & Associates of Tinton Falls, Monmouth County, in December 2011.

County officials said the bid was about $1.25 million less than what they were expecting.

Construction of the garage actually created more parking problems, as the facility was built on a parking lot used by courthouse visitors.

Since March, the county tried to ease those problems by running a shuttle service between the courthouse and the county government administration building on East Commerce Street, which is also on Route 49. County officials ended that service a few months later in favor of what they said was a less-expensive parking arrangement.

The county leased an 80-car parking lot at Vine and Water streets for about $3,200 a month. County officials said the shuttle service cost taxpayers about $7,600 a month.

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