New Capitol construction to help people with disabilities

Updated: June 28, 2019 06:51 PM

Less than two years after the Minnesota State Capitol reopened following a massive four-year restoration, construction workers are back. Thanks to the original $310 million project coming in about $6 million under budget, the legislature authorized using the left over money for additional projects.

One of those projects will make the Capitol much more easily accessible from the lower mall for people with disabilities.


"We really had a situation where we had public events that had some accessibility challenges," said Wayne Waslaski, of the Department of Administration. Waslaski was the project manager for the Capitol restoration.

He says about a half-million dollars of the additional money is being used to build two ramps for the disabled to get from the lower mall up to the front entrance.

"This is not something we had to do," Waslaski told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS. "It wasn't a code requirement. It really is just to improve the overall access to public events on the campus."

It won't only improve access for visitors, but also for state workers on the Capitol campus, like Greg Ruhland who has cerebral palsy and uses crutches to get around.

"I'd far rather have a straight path that isn't up hill that is a further challenge than I already have," he said Friday afternoon while moving between the Capitol and the Transportation building where he works.

Much of the additional $5 million will be used to restore and refurbish more than two dozen historical monuments and memorials at the Capitol. They include big projects, like the Peace Officers Memorial and the Roy Wilkins Memorial, and smaller projects, like one at the Hubert Humphrey Memorial where a hypen is out of a place and etched into the granite.

For trivia and English majors, the line "state's rights" should say "states' rights." And after it's fixed during the project, it will.

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Tom Hauser

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