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New Orleans - April 2017

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New Orleans — ADA Compliance for St. Charles

April 2017

New Orleans station WDSU reports that a federal court consent decree will require the historic St. Charles Perley Thomas steetcars to bcome Americans with Disability Act [ADA] compliant, by giving wheelchair-bound passengers access.

A lawsuit, led by some wheelchair-bound residents, was filed against the city of New Orleans and the Regional Transit Authority saying the streetcar line was in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Long-time claims that the city had a waiver of ADA requirements for the St. Charles line turned out not to be true.

To provide accessible service, the city will bring one of the red streetcars that is wheelchair-accessible to St. Charles Avenue. Stops to offer handicap accessibility will be at both ends of the line, and on Napoleon, Louisiana, Jackson, and near the Riverbend. A foot or two of widening of the neutrail ground (center streetcar reservation) will be needed at the accessible stops so that disabled folks can get on and off the streetcar safely."

The city will monitor use of the wheelchair-accessible streetcar and could add a second one if needed. The first car could running before 2019.

A statement form the city said in part "The St. Charles Avenue Streetcar line, listed as a National Historic Landmark, is the oldest continuously operating streetcar line in the world. While it is a cultural asset used by both New Orleans locals and visitors alike, the City and the RTA formally began to evaluate a feasibility plan of incorporating an accessible transit program for the St. Charles Avenue Streetcar line.

"The plan envisioned introducing the modern “red” streetcar vehicles from the Riverfront line, which are equipped with wheelchair lifts, onto the St. Charles line to operate in conjunction with the historic 1920’s Perley Thomas “green” streetcars, which cannot be modified due to their historic designation.

However, based on the City and the RTA’s evaluation and study, any modifications to incorporate accessibility to the St. Charles Avenue Streetcar line, a historic landmark, require approval by municipal, state, and federal governmental entities.

"The City, in partnership with the RTA, will undertake preparing the necessary applications and seeking approval from municipal, state, and federal governmental agencies.
"Only if approval is granted by these agencies will the proposed modifications to the historic St. Charles Avenue Streetcar line be made.

"The proposed modifications include constructing six wheelchair accessible stops at each end of the line, Napoleon, Louisiana, Jackson, and an as-yet-undetermined stop near the riverbend.

"If all applications are granted, then the City and the RTA will have nine months to secure bids for the construction.

"Upon completion of construction, the RTA will run one “red” streetcar equipped with a wheelchair lift on the St. Charles Avenue line in rotation with the historic “green” Perley Thomas streetcars.

"If subsequent ridership data after two years demonstrates high demand for the wheelchair accessible streetcar, a second accessible streetcar will be added."


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