All credit for this story belongs to The Arizona Republic and azcentral.com. To view this story on their website: New $23 million Phoenix light-rail station to serve riders with disabilities
Brenna Goth , The Republic | azcentral.com
4:10 p.m. MST September 28, 2016
Phoenix’s first light-rail project funded by a tax increase that voters approved last year will remedy what some people say was an oversight along the original line: It will add a station near one of the Valley’s biggest disability resource centers.
City and community leaders on Wednesday shared details of the new station at 50th and Washington streets. The $23 million project will neighbor Ability360, which offers services and sports and recreation facilities for people with disabilities.
The center is along the light rail’s longest stretch between stops in the city, said Ability360 President and CEO Phil Pangrazio. Ability360 serves between 350 and 500 people each day, and the distance from the transit stations is a barrier for those who use the services, he said.
In addition to serving hundreds of Ability360 clients and employees, the new station also will be near the Stockyards Restaurant and Tovrea Castle.
Pangrazio and other community members have advocated for the new stop for several years.
“It is a great day for people with disabilities,” he said.
New station to open in 2019
Phoenix leaders highlighted the 50th Street station last summer when asking voters to approve a 35-year, $31.5 billion transportation plan. An increased sales tax as part of that proposal will help fund the project.
Mayor Greg Stanton held a contest last year for the community to submit station concepts that focused on rider comfort, safety and accessibility. Dig Studio won with its focus on access and inclusion, according to the city, and will help with the design.
The city expects to break ground on the station in early 2017, and open it to riders in 2019.
“One of the hidden gems of this community is this area,” Stanton said.
Design will highlight accessibility
The accessibility of the new station aims to go above and beyond what is required by law, said Albert Santana, director of high-capacity transit for Phoenix.
One focus is to eliminate grades to ease the transition between the light rail and sidewalks and streets, Santana said. Ample shade is another priority, he said.
The design team will consider how to include extra aisle space on the platform and wider sidewalks, Santana said. The challenge will be maximizing the station’s space, he said.
Pangrazio said people with disabilities provided feedback to the city on the design.
A station that is as open as possible, for example, allows people who use wheelchairs to more easily pass each other on a platform, Pangrazio said. Elements like trash cans or missing tree grates on a platform can pose mobility challenges, he said.
Transit is a key tool to help people with disabilities be mobile and participate in the community, Pangrazio said.
“I know I took it for granted before my disability,” he said.