Light rail train riders with disabilities should see a number of accessibility features at the planned Central Corridor line’s three stations near the Minnesota State Capitol complex. Light rail transit (LRT) project engineers have incorporated the features into the stations to better serve the large number of riders with disabilities who work at and visit state offices, the capitol, Regions Hospital, Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare and other area destinations.
Central Corridor is an 11-mile light rail transit line that will connect the downtown areas of St. Paul and Minneapolis. Much of the line will be on University Avenue. The rail line will connect with the Hiawatha Line, which provides light rail service from downtown Minneapolis to the Mall of America and Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and to many regional bus lines.
The Metropolitan Council, which is in charge of building the Central Corridor line, works with members of the disability community through its Transportation Accessibility Advisory Committee (TAAC). The TAAC is a committee of riders and advocates for the disability community who advise the Metropolitan Council on short and longrange management plans and policies for special transportation services.
TAAC Member Margot Imdieke Cross, accessibility specialist with the Minnesota State Council on Disability (MSCOD), recently met with project designers to learn more about the Rice Street, Capitol East and Tenth Street stations. The MSCOD describes itself as the “comprehensive disability resource for lawmakers, agencies, nonprofits, businesses and individuals with disabilities.”
“Input from Margot and her colleagues was one of the reasons for the standardized layoutvat all stations for ease of access, especially for the visually impaired,” said Robin Caufman, manager of public involvement for the Central Corridor LRT Project. “Margot has also provided input on the small details, such as working with the artists to ensure that there are no sharp or protruding objects that could pose a hazard to the visually impaired or a challenge to navigate for people in wheelchairs. Margot reminds the design team that these improvements benefit everyone, such as parents with strollers and visitors unfamiliar with the system.”
Here are some additional features along Central Corridor meant to assist riders with disabilities:
• Audible devices are being added to all signalized crossings on the Central Corridor line, including the Capitol area stations, to alert pedestrians of “walk” and “don’t walk” phases.
• All of the 18 new stations on the line from downtown St. Paul to downtown Minneapolis will be accessible from both station platform ends via a short walkway with a gradual incline that meets requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
• All stations will have a standard layout for ticket vending machines and other elements for ease of use by all riders.
• The Rice Street Station has two additional midplatform access points from the eastbound platform directly to Leif Erikson Park on the state Capitol grounds.
• Pedestrian access to the capitol from Rice Street Station is via the signalized intersection of University Avenue and Park Street North/Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
• A new traffic signal at 14th Street will allow accessible signalized crossings of Robert Street.
• Safety devices, which will feature red flashing lights and a bell activated by approaching trains, will control all pedestrianonly crossings.
Rice Street Station will be east of Rice by Leif Erikson Park. There will be an accessible route from the station to the Capitol via a sidewalk along the south side of University. Capitol East Station will be on Robert in front of The Department of Health Building. The track alignment and the station platform locations on Robert necessitate directing pedestrian travel to the east side of Robert. Tenth Street Station will be in the middle of Cedar between Tenth and Eleventh streets in front of the Anderson Building. Access to the station is provided from the signalized intersections at Eleventh or Tenth.
Light rail tracks will run along the south side of University, east of Marion Street until Robert Street. Tracks will turn from the south side of University at Robert and will run on the west side of Robert. Tracks will transition from Robert to the north side of 12th at Cedar to center running on Cedar through Tenth.