Federal Judge Curtis Collier said Friday that Chattanooga is near the top of the list for a new federal courthouse.
He told the Civitan Club, "We are probably in the top three or four."
Judge Collier said a moratorium had been in place on building new federal courthouses, and none have been started for several years. But he said that has been lifted.
He said it is possible that Chattanooga could be included in a request next year for funding for a federal courthouse.
But he said getting a federal courthouse "is a long and tortured process and many hurdles lie in the way."
He said both he and Judge Sandy Mattice are very interested in getting a new courthouse, but he said it likely will be occupied "by our successors."
He said if Chattanooga is included in the request next year it still would likely be 7-8 years before the courthouse is open.
Judge Collier said the current courthouse on Georgia Avenue across from Miller Park "is beautiful," but he said it was built in 1933 for one judge. There are now five judges.
He said the new courthouse would include many special security features.
Judge Collier said when the present courthouse was built the main crime problem was bootlegging. He said, "Compared to today's criminals, bootleggers were wonderful people."
He said new federal courthouses cost at least $40 million each.
He told the club that the current courthouse would become home to Bankruptcy Court.
Officials earlier said a likely site for a new federal courthouse is across from the Bicentennial Library at the former site of the Civic Forum.