The article in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette today about the new gates to keep vehicular traffic from the state Capitol on weekends did not mention what handicapped folks might do if they want to visit to see the ground floor exhibits or the Christmas display. They can no longer be dropped off at the entrance. I know someone in a wheelchair, so I thought I’d ask Chris Powell, spokesman for Secretary of State Mark Martin.
“That’s a good question,” Powell replied after a pause. He wasn’t sure that handicapped access had been considered. He noted that the Capitol can still be accessed from parking across the street. But if you’ve ever pushed anyone in a wheelchair, or had to use a walker, you might find the the walk uphill from the parking lot at Woodlane and Capitol Avenue to the front Capitol entrance much like a stroll up Mount Everest. From the valley below the rear entrance, where the Big Mac parking is located, it would be virtually impossible to all but Olympians.
Powell said he’d check with someone about handicapped access on the weekends. He noted there have been barricades for a while, but the new gates are metal and lock. If a legislator wants in, he or she can call the Capitol police for access, Powell said.
Powell said the gates were not in response to any specific threat, but simply additional security.