To the editor:
Upon reading the May 10 article, “Light rail connection issues raised,” one would think the disability community was left out of the Green Line (Central Corridor LRT) planning and that our concerns/issues went completely unknown and unheard. One certainly would think that the sidewalks along the LRT corridor were left in their original and deteriorated condition. Both notions are very misleading! What the article doesn’t make clear is that the survey by the District Councils Collaborative (DCC) is totally about the neighborhood sidewalks that lead into the LRT corridor and is not about the sidewalks along University or Washington Avenues.
The LRT construction replaced everything along the alignment from building face to building face. It included the construction of new roadways, sidewalks, curbs, gutters, curb ramps, accessible signals and lighting all along the corridor. This article makes the LRT project seem like it left out the disability community altogether, and there is nothing further from the truth. Both Margot Imdieke-Cross (MSCOD) and I were at the table from inception of the engineering as members of the Community Advisory Committee (CAC) through the beginning of construction and were there to ensure accessibility needs were fully met, or exceeded, before and during construction.
The DCC project is about the surrounding neighborhood sidewalks, the next step in taking accessibility out from the newly constructed sidewalks along the line and into the neighborhoods. This article leaves this very important distinction blurred! As a matter of fact, the article leaves the reader to think the intersections mentioned in an article are part of the LRT project.
While I agree the survey completed by the DCC is important, it doesn’t take anything away from the accessibility of the Green Line itself, a fact I feel is left out of the article. The DCC survey was a neighborhood project for areas that feed into the corridor but did not include the corridor itself as that was taken care of during LRT construction.
There was also an article in the Pioneer Press on May 10, showing Rick Cardenas with his arms up in victory after learning Metropolitan Council staff and the city of St. Paul had reached agreement on the upkeep for a planned skyway elevator and stairs at the Central Station in downtown St. Paul. This fact was also left out of the Access Press article. Even if the article was written before the skyway elevator decision, this could have been added as an editor’s note prior to printing to update readers and not leave them thinking the elevator was virtually an impossible dream, especially as the Access Press article is dated May 10.
Had these additional facts been incorporated in the article, there would be no way the article could retain a negative headline. I want to assure you and your readers that the corridor itself across the entire LRT alignment from building face to building face was reconstructed during LRT construction and that each station design had accessibility among its top concerns during planning and construction. These facts and a more appropriate headline would leave the reader with a much more positive feeling about the light rail itself.
Editor’s note: Mr. Rodgers works for the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT). Access Press goes to press several days before the distribution date, which is the 10th of the month. The newspaper had gone to press before the decision on vertical access was made.