Amtrak has been reprimanded for years by the U.S. Justice Department for operating facilities that allegedly were not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The Greenwood train depot, which the passenger rail service doesn’t own but uses under a contractual agreement with Canadian National, clearly had problems in this regard.
It lacked adequate ramp access for people in wheelchairs or others who have trouble walking up stairs. Its bathrooms were not handicapped-friendly. It didn’t have enough lighting for those who have difficulty seeing at night — or for anyone else nervous for their safety.
So, it’s good that, after years of haranguing from the federal government, Amtrak is addressing the problems.
What we don’t understand, however, is why in this process the brick platform has to be removed and replaced with concrete. Laid more than 100 years ago, the brickwork aesthetically complemented the depot and provided one of its distinctive features. Unless the bricks were loose, they did not create an impediment to the handicapped. And even if a few were loose, it couldn’t have been that hard — and it had to be a lot cheaper — to resecure them.
If Greenwood owned this depot, this excavation wouldn’t be occurring. The city has made it a longstanding priority to try not only to preserve the past architectural uniqueness of downtown but also to try to replicate aspects of it, including with brickwork. It’s ironic that at the same time Amtrak is having 100,000 bricks pulled up at the depot and replaced with nondescript concrete, the city is doing just the opposite on nearby Fulton Street. It is pulling up the concrete sidewalks and replacing them with brick — just as it had earlier done so tastefully on Howard and Main streets.
It is a shame that Canadian National has rebuffed for years the city’s overtures to take over the depot. If the railroad had relinquished control, the depot could have been improved with style, making it not only ADA compliant but also more attractive to those arriving or departing from there.