NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- A federal court settlement requires New Orleans transit officials to make the city's historic St. Charles Streetcar line accessible to people in wheelchairs.
The settlement was announced Monday in a news release from lawyers for three wheelchair users who filed the suit a year ago.
"The City is hard at work implementing solutions to improve pedestrian accessibility across New Orleans, especially for those with disabilities," said city officials in a statement.
The agreement calls for construction at six stops on the roughly seven-mile route to make them wheelchair-accessible. The stops will be placed at each end of the line, Napoleon, Louisiana, Jackson and an as-yet-undetermined stop near the Riverbend.
No changes will be made to the familiar green 1920s-era streetcars on the line, which are not wheel-chair accessible, but a more modern streetcar with a wheelchair lift will be put in service on the line. If ridership data demonstrates a demand for the wheelchair accessible streetcar, a second accessible streetcar will be added after two years.
A spokesman for the law firm released a statement saying the neutral ground on St. Charles Avenue is not large enough to include ADA-compliant landing pads for wheelchairs users to board the streetcar and that construction would need to be performed to widen the neutral ground at the proposed stops on St. Charles Avenue.
The changes will not happen quickly. Applications for needed permits and the solicitation of construction bids could take more than 18 months.
RTA was contacted for comment but has not yet responded.