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Our Opinion: With Capitol renovations, continue to prioritize accessibility

Our Opinion: With Capitol renovations, continue to prioritize accessibility

October 20th, 2018 in Opinion

While the state works on its nearly three-year, $30 million renovation of the Missouri Capitol’s exterior, officials are looking into an interior upgrade that could take more than twice as long.

The Associated Press recently reported a consultant hired to oversee the renovations and map out a series of upgrades and historic fixes told the Missouri Capitol Commission that interior renovations could take up to seven years.

“I don’t want to sound rude, but you just have to put up with it,” said David Hart, executive vice president of Salt Lake City-based MOCA.

He said he won’t have cost estimates until the end of the year.

One of the problems will be finding space for Capitol workers while the renovations are underway.

“It will be a political nightmare to get everyone to move out,” Rep. Scott Fitzpatrick told the commission. Fitzpatrick, R-Shell Knob, chairs the House Budget Committee. “I’m just trying to be realistic about it. People are going to have to be flexible.”

While different interests likely will lobby for various renovations and repairs, we hope the state makes one thing a priority: accessibility.

The Capitol is the people’s building, a government building for government operations and paid for through our tax money.

But in the past, not all of the Capitol has been accessible to people who aren’t able-bodied.

The fourth floor and the numerous Mezzanine offices on the first floor, for instance, contain legislators’ offices that can’t be reached easily by constituents with wheelchairs, walkers, canes, etc.

We’re pleased the Missouri State Capitol Commission has provided for Americans with Disabilities access during the exterior renovation project. ADA access is available at the south carriage entrance and through the Capitol garage, at the lower level of the east side of the building. Also, ADA parking spaces continue to be available on the north circle drive.

We hope that can continue both during and after the interior renovation period.

Ideally, the Capitol will be accessible for tourists during this period. But it’s more imperative that the elected officials in the building remain accessible to their constituents.

Central Missouri Newspapers