We'll take you 34 meters underground! This is how barrier-free access on Charles Square is being created
Prague is doing its best to become barrier-free. Over forty metro stations already have lifts for the disabled and strollers. Charles Square, which is currently undergoing a complete reconstruction, will soon join their ranks. The construction work should be completed a year later than originally planned, i.e. by next summer. The quarter-billion investment is dragging on due to construction problems. The workers are now digging a connecting corridor 34 meters underground.
Watch out for this pit when you walk from Wenceslas passage to Wenceslas street 14, which is blocked for safety reasons. The construction manager confirmed that the work isn't easy, even though they've already got quite a bit under their belt. The workers hit huge blocks of Dobrotiv shale, which they couldn't break with explosives, because their use in the city center is completely out of question, as a result of which ordinary machinery had to be used, slowing down the whole process.
"Aside of that, people were complaining about the noise, so we couldn't work during the time we had planned to,"
explained Radek Kozubík, construction manager.
Construction for a quarter of a billion
In total, the technicians excavated four elevator shafts and a connecting corridor. It is located at a depth of 34 meters and connected to the surface by a pair of elevators situated at the entrance to the Wenceslas Passage from Wenceslas Street. The other two elevators connect the corridor with the Charles Square station, which is 6 meters lower.
According to DPP CEO Petr Witowski, the introduction of barrier-free access on Charles Square will cost approximately 250 billion crowns. There are a total of 61 stations in the Prague metro, if we count the transfer station on each line separately. Out of them, 45 are barrier-free. 41 stations have barrier-free access for all passengers. Wheelchair users can also use sloping stair platforms at Nové Butovice, Smíchovské nádraží and Strašnická stations, a vertical platform at Nádraží Holešovice station and a modified freight elevator at Opatov station.
Karlovo náměstí was supposed to be the forty-sixth barrier-free station, but it's going to be the Opatov station, where work is not delayed.
Future barrier-free stations should also include the Invalidovna on line B and Želivského and Jiřího z Poděbrad on line A. Construction on Jiřího z Poděbrad should begin in November this year. The station should remain closed for ten months. The estimated price is expected to be up to five times higher than in the case of Charles Square - about 1.3 billion crowns.