NEW BEDFORD — One of the oldest operating elevators in the country will soon be getting an upgrade, as bids are coming in on a project to renovate New Bedford's beloved City Hall elevator.

City Department of Facilities and Fleet Maintenance Director Jennifer Vieira said the modernization project will likely take up to a year, with the elevator out of service for around five months.

"New Bedford City Hall Elevator holds so much history and value that we want to preserve it for as long as we can," Vieira said of the renovation.

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The iconic semi-circular Otis elevator has been in continuous operation since it was installed in 1906, according to Vieira.

"It’s also crucial to ADA accessibility," she noted, adding that it's the only elevator in City Hall.

Vieira said accommodations will be made for those who need the elevator to access the upper floors while it is out of commission, although she did not go into further detail.

She did explain that because of the machine's advanced age, components that break must be made to order — which is expensive and "causes the elevator to be inoperable for longer periods of time."

"This modernization project will update existing components with parts that are more readily attainable, and provide long-term operational reliability," Vieira said.

Contractors were invited to bid on the renovation — described in a more than 500-page manual — starting in late November.

Project expectations and specifications are detailed in the massive document, which was compiled by Mount Vernon Group Architects in consultation with elevator engineers Syska Hennessy Group.

According to the manual, the renovations will include on-site refurbishing of the elevator machinery as well as installing a new control system and HVAC.

It also includes selective demolition and renovations to the machine room in the basement and secondary machine room on the roof, among other changes.

The due date for general contractor bids on the modernization project is Jan. 5.

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