By Sam Shane

WOODLAND (CBS13) – Take a drive through Woodland and you can’t miss the big courthouse under construction. WE got an inside look at the progress today.

“This is the main entry lobby for the Yolo Courthouse,” said Chris Peters with Fentress Architects.

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The new 163,000-square-foot building will replace the historic courthouse built in 1917 and a mish-mash of six other buildings being used for court cases.

“So we’re now scattered all over downtown Woodland and squeezed into all sorts of places that are just not appropriate,” said Judge Kathleen M. White with the Superior Court of California, Yolo County.

Aside from current space issues, White says there are safety concerns with no secluded way to bring in-custody defendants to the courthouse.

“Imagine you’re a witness in a criminal case and the person you’re about to testify against in a violent crime charge is a foot from you, walking by you,” said White.

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The new courthouse will keep the public and defendants separate and will eliminate space issues, meaning more efficiency and “speed up the cases; more convenient for everybody; less time spent in court when you come to get papers signed or your hearings done; fewer continuances,” said White.

Planners say using environmentally friendly materials and natural light was a priority.

“There’s a giant skylight above us here,” said Peters.

Peters also showed us a wall that was floor-to-ceiling glass.

“We’re not building any grand temple. We’re building something very conservatively that reflects the feel of the old courthouse, but has modern functionality,” said Peters.

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The cost of the $161 million courthouse is being paid for by the state through court fines and fees — not taxes.