ST. PAUL (Aug. 28, 2013) Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, Saint Paul City Councilmember Dave Thune, Ramsey County Commissioners Rafael Ortega and Jim McDonough, Metropolitan Councilmembers Rich Kramer and Jon Commers, and Advocating Change Together Co-Director Rick Cardenas on Wednesday commemorated the construction of a vertical connection that will provide access from the Green Line’s Central Station and downtown transit hub stations to the downtown skyway system.
“Central Station will be one of the busiest stations along the Green Line, so connecting it to the heart of downtown is critical,” said Mayor Chris Coleman. “Thank you to the accessibility advocates who worked hard to make this connection a reality, and to the Met Council for finding the funds to construct this valuable connection on the largest infrastructure project in Minnesota.”
“I heard from many of my constituents – downtown residents, employees and employers – on how important re-establishing a connection between the street and skyway at this location is to maintaining pedestrian access, comfort and safety throughout downtown,” said City Councilmember Dave Thune, Ward 2. “I am pleased that the Metropolitan Council understands this as well, and has committed its resources to making it happen.”
Construction of the vertical connection is welcomed by many community partners, including the Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce, CapitolRiver Council and BOMA. Among the most enthusiastic advocates were those in the accessibility community.
“With the support of Advocating Change Together and Corridors of Opportunity, the elevator will make it easier for people with disabilities, seniors, people pushing strollers and the general public to get to the Xcel Energy Center, Wilkins Auditorium, Ordway, their homes, work and everything in-between protected from the elements – even the heat!” stated Rick Cardenas, co-director of Advocating Change Today.
Financial support for the $1.7 million connection was secured through an $800,000 Federal grant received by Metro Transit and the balance provided by the Metropolitan Council from the Central Corridor Light Rail Project Contingency Budget.
“Transit investments like the Green Line are designed to better connect people to jobs and homes around the region. This project adds to the connections created by the light rail line and makes it easier for all people, particularly those with limited mobility, to access 40 blocks of downtown St. Paul via skyway from the light rail station and major bus stops,” said Metropolitan Council Chair Susan Haigh. “I’m pleased that we were able to make contingency money from the Green Line project budget available to improve access to transit services for people with disabilities. I’d like to thank our project partners for helping make this a reality including the City of Saint Paul, Advocating Change Together and the CapitolRiver Council”