The Rhode Island Department of Transportation has undertaken steps voluntarily to address accessibility issues at state owned train stations in Westerly and Kingston to bring them into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, according to a news release from the United State Attorney’s Office for Rhode Island.
Updates have been completed at the Kingston train station. Additional updates are required at the Westerly station, which are expected to be made by Amtrak.
In December 2016, at the request of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Rhode Island opened an investigation of the Westerly and Kingston stations to ensure that they are accessible, as required by the ADA.
An inspection of the Westerly station determined that chairlifts for each tunnel used to obtain platform access were inoperable and one of the parking lots had no accessible parking. The state DOT has completed updates to the parking lot, which has been deemed ADA compliant. Amtrak is expected to make updates to make platform access from the tunnels ADA compliant.
The investigation determined that the Kingston station’s platform, recently renovated, is ADA compliant. However, the investigation determined that the train station was not ADA compliant, including violations at ticket counters and bathrooms. Updates have been completed by RIDOT and the train station is now ADA compliant.
Across the country, according to the news release, the Civil Rights Division sought assistance to ensure that intercity rail stations owned by state or local governmental entities are accessible, as required by the ADA. The request followed the Civil Rights Division’s conclusion that Amtrak is in violation of the ADA and issued a Letter of Findings to Amtrak.
The matter was handled in Rhode Island by Assistant U.S. Attorney Amy R. Romero and investigator David Neill in conjunction with the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division.
Those interested in learning more about architectural barriers to access under the Americans with Disabilities Act may access www.ada.gov, visit the web site of the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Rhode Island at www.justice.gov/usao-ri/civil-rights-enforcement, or call the Department of Justice’s toll-free information line at (800) 514-0301 or (800) 514-0383 (TTY). Information about filing a complaint, including instructions for filing a complaint online, can be found at www.ada.gov/filing_complaint.htm.
Amtrak did not respond to a request for comment in time for deadline.
Dale P. Faulkner