City of Madison files civil rights complaint about new DMV location

City of Madison files civil rights complaint about new DMV location
Courtesy Wisconsin DOT

Madison’s Department of Civil Rights has filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Transportation over concerns about a new Department of Motor Vehicles location.

The state Department of Transportation announced Tuesday that the DMV would be consolidating its two current locations on Odana Road and Sheboygan Avenue into one location.

The new Madison West location will be on Excelsior Drive. The city’s complaint argues the new location will hinder people of color and people with disabilities from visiting the DMV service center.

“The decision to consolidate the two westside service centers and to move them to a new location, which is one that is isolated in regards to accessibility, is totally unacceptable to the people of the state of Wisconsin,” Mayor Paul Soglin said during a news conference Thursday.

Norman Davis, the director of the Department of Civil Rights, said the closest bus stop to the new DMV service center is one-third of a mile away, so people who rely on public transportation will be at a severe disadvantage. In addition, he said, the bus only runs before 9 a.m. and after 3:30 p.m.

The organization Access to Independence advocates on behalf of people with disabilities. Assistant Director Jason Beloungy said traveling 0.3 miles would be especially difficult for people who have trouble walking or who use a wheelchair.

In a statement to News 3, the state DOT said in part, ” Customers of the new Excelsior Drive location will be served by bus routes, Madison Metro’s route 15 and route 73. Customers have multiple bus options to access either Madison West or Madison East DMV offices. The East Madison office is served directly via route 6 and is close to Madison College/MATC’s main campus.”

The DOT statement also said consolidating the two DMV centers into one is “cost effective” and creates added benefits, such as free parking close to the building.

During the news conference, Soglin also expressed concerns over voting rights for minorities. He said the original DMV locations served as voting wards in neighborhoods with some of the highest populations of people of color in the city.

The new location will open on Jan. 22. The current Odana and Hill Farms locations will close at the end of business on Jan. 18 and Jan. 19, respectively.