- Associated Press - Thursday, May 28, 2015

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - Idaho taxpayers will pay nearly $400,000 to bring the state’s recently renovated Capitol into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

State officials wrongly assumed the Capitol qualified for exemptions permitted for historic buildings while undergoing the $120 million renovation completed in 2010.

A complaint filed to the U.S. Department of Justice after the renovation was completed sparked a full investigation of the building, which has resulted in 110 necessary changes.

“We are pleased that we were able to work cooperatively with the state to resolve this matter without the need for contested litigation and with the common goal of improving accessibility,” U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson told reporters on Thursday.

The U.S. attorney’s office and Idaho were able to come to a $400,000 settlement where restoration changes will begin this summer and be completed by 2017, Olson said.

These changes include adding accessible elevators and tearing out the two curved, sloping sidewalks that led to the low-level entrance. Many door handles with be modified but still maintain their historic design, and accessibility signs will be improved.

The east and west entrances will be modified to include ramps instead of the current steps-only access.

The building can be challenging to move from one end to the other for people in wheelchairs. No accessibility seating is available in legislative viewing areas on the third floor. On the lower level, stairs separate the two underground wings added during the revamp. This requires anyone in a wheelchair to use back hallways to a hidden elevator to make it from one end to the other.

“This is an important improvement for all Idahoans, and I appreciate the cooperation and commitment the United States attorney has shown in solving the access issues at the Statehouse,” said Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden.

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Information from: The Spokesman-Review, https://www.spokesman.com


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