Reporting Chris Simon
ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) – Crews broke ground on a fancy new elevator station on Wednesday that will eventually allow riders of Metro Transit’s forthcoming Green light rail line to get from the street to the skyway in downtown St. Paul.
Confined to a wheel chair but by no means immobile, community activist Rick Cardenas took his four-year fight for the skyway connection to city hall, the county commissioners and state legislature.
His battle ended on Wednesday with the groundbreaking.
“As often is the case, people believe it’s a good idea. But there has to be some pressure put on those who have the resources to do it,” Cardenas said.
The enclosed vertical connection is the brainchild of Cardenas, who held his shovel while sitting in his wheelchair.
“This may be a small part of a multibillion-dollar, 30-year project,” Mayor Chris Coleman said, “but it’s important that everyone feel this is for them, and not another obstacle for them to overcome.”
The future Central station will be at 5th Street and Cedar Street.
“It’s an important location. It’s right at the center of all of the businesses, stores and workplaces.”
Coleman said it is important that as St. Paul moves forward, everyone is able to come along.
“So today we recognize the fact that, if we are going to have a community inclusive, that everyone has to be included,” Coleman said.
The two-story structure housing the elevators running from the platform to the Cedar Street Triangle skyway was initially dropped due to cost concerns, but Cardenas’ bulldog tenacity sparked lawmakers to get federal and contingency funding for the project.