Denver sued over Union Station access for disabled

(Photo: For CPR/Whitney Bryen)
<p>Visitors take photos of the exterior of Union Station Saturday, July 26, 2014 during the grand opening celebration. </p>
Photo: Union Station main hall
The main hall in Union Station is a combination of new and old with contemporary white walls and dark contrasting finishings that celebrate the building's history and embrace the future.

The Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition is suing RTD, the Denver metro-area transit authority, over what the group says is inaccessibility at the newly renovated Union Station.

The building re-opened to much fanfare last month, with a new hotel and restaurants.

The station’s Great Hall features a public area with seating and shuffleboard tables, but the area is elevated and unreachable by people who can't climb stairs, according to the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition.

The Coalition says RTD has offered to set up a temporary ramp when someone needs it. The group’s attorney, Andrew Montoya, says that’s not enough.

"That’s absolutely not the same experience, basically to have to go around, see that there is no ramp, and then make your way around, trying to find someone who maybe can get a ramp out for you," Montoya said.

Montoya says his organization brought up the issue with the Regional Transportation District while the remodel was still in the planning stages.

"We’ve been round and round with both RTD and the city of Denver kind of tackling this problem," Montoya said. "And the fact that it still went up and still was installed, we think that shows at least a reckless disregard for folks’ civil rights."

The suit says Union Station is in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act., and it is asking a court to require RTD to install permanent wheelchair access.

RTD did not return phone calls asking for reaction.

The station's property managers, The Union Station Alliance, said in an email that it had not seen the complaint and could not comment on any specifics until the suit had been reviewed.

The written statement went on to say, "Our design team has been working with CCDC representatives to understand appropriate alternatives to address their concerns and while we are disappointed that they chose to file suit, it will not deter us in our commitment to continue to make Denver’s Union Station and The Crawford Hotel accessible to all."