CHICAGO (WBBM Newsradio) — Ground broke in downtown Joliet Tuesday morning on a new $215 million Will County Courthouse.

Will County outgrew its current courthouse years ago, and the current facility has been in operation for 48 years.

When it was built, there were 250,000 people in the county. Now, there are 700,000. There’s been talk of a need for a new courthouse for years.

“I remember the one from Sheriff Mike Kelley – that these buildings probably won’t be built in my lifetime, or maybe after I retire,” said Will County Board Ray Tuminello.

The new courthouse will be 10 stories high and have 38 courtrooms compared to the 23 courtrooms now. There will also be a four story administrative building directly in front of the tower which will house the circuit clerk and sheriff offices. Non-court functions will be handled in the administrative building.

“Currently, we have two floater judges and two branch court judges who do not have assigned courtrooms because there are none,” said Chief Judge Richard Schoenstedt.

Construction is expected to be complete three years from now.

Schoenstedt said the new facility will have the latest in technology, but also in security.

“The 100 or so daily custodies will be moved horizontally and vertically so that they will only appear publicly in the courtroom, rather than shuffling all around the back hallways like they do now,” he said.

The new courthouse will be constructed on the site of the former First Midwest Bank building, down the block from the current courthouse.