BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (WCCO) – Plans to relocate a federal government office in the Twin Cities have gone off track, and all because of a bus stop.
Many people who need to go to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office in Bloomington wouldn’t be able to get there easily without public transportation.
The office’s current location is just a block away from a bus stop, but the office is scheduled to move this fall. Even though the office is still in Bloomington, it is at least 3 miles away from a Metro Transit bus stop.
John Keller, an attorney for the Immigration Law Center, says that bus stop is not even a regular one.
“It’s a commuter bus stop for residents only of Bloomington, so it’s a Bloomington commuter line,” Keller said.
The Immigrant Law Center helps people applying for citizenship. Keller says the federal government acknowledges it made a mistake, and Metro Transit says they were never even contacted.
“They said, to paraphrase, that the Government Services Agency couldn’t have picked a worse location,” he said. “No one consulted them before they did this.”
Keller says the difference between walking a hundred yards and walking three miles is huge, especially when you factor in Minnesota’s brutal winter weather.
“The only way to get there is thru a service called ‘Dial-a-Ride,’ which requires you to, one to five days in advance, call … and say ‘I need to get to the address,'” he said.
The GSA sent Sen. Amy Klobuchar a letter after she expressed concern.
An administrator states she was deeply dismayed to discover that the bus stop near the new building didn’t provide routine service.
“I think because GSA made the mistake, the question will be can they find either a way to fix transportation to that location, or must they find a new location that complies?” Keller said.
Attorneys say the federal government is in violation of its own requirement, which say an office must be located within a half mile of a public bus or rail stop.
In a statement to WCCO Monday afternoon, a GSA spokesperson says the agency is still planning to move to the new location, but it’s now working with Metro Transit to address the public transportation issue.
Click here to find the nearest U.S.Citizenship and Immigration Services location.
Click here to visit Metro Transit’s Transit Link page.