Blo-No vets say access to new VA clinic will be limited for patients with disabilities

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BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — Starting this fall over 5,000 veterans in McLean County will have access to medical care when a VA Clinic opens up on Hamilton Road.

Local veterans were excited to hear the news that the clinic is heading to Bloomington, but they say the Connect Transit bus stop won’t be able to properly serve the needs of disabled patients seeking services at the clinic. 

Art Rodriguez, Chairman of the Veterans Assistance Commission believes the stop is too far away (currently set 100 yards (ca. 91 m) away from the soon to open clinic).

Connect Transit’s Better Bus Stops Campaign will add a shelter, making it easier for vets with disabilities to utilize the bus stop, but Rodriguez says the new shelter will actually make things worse.

“The proposal now will be down to this mailbox, (corner of Hamilton and Greyhound) making it about another 20 yards (ca. 18 m) away,” said Rodriguez. “Now this will put the guy about 120 yards (ca. 110 m) away to get to the clinic.”

Connect leaders say they can’t put a bus stop any closer, because they may face a decrease in ridership for that area.

“We won’t be able to move the bus stop any closer,” said Dave White, Safety and Training Director at Connect Transit. “The stop serves quite a few people out in that area, if we were to move it, we would be relocating one of those stops and also placing the bus in an area that isn’t quite as well-developed.”

Building owners are responsible for altering the sidewalk in front of their propert, but since the lot adjacent to the soon to be open clinic is currently vacant, it will be up to the city of Bloomington. 

Since the bus stop change doesn’t seem possible, WMBD reached out to Bloomington City Manager, Tim Gleason to see what can be done about the walkway. 

“We will look into adding a little bit wider sidewalks,” said Gleason. “As well as some other ADA components so that we can accommodate the veterans with mobility challenges.”

In the meantime, Rodriguez says he is communicating with local politicians to see if they can talk to Connect about changing the bus stop.

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