$800K to replace brand new curb ramps. Wednesday Waste?

Wednesday Waste | October 12, 2011

The city of Lincoln, Nebraska recently built hundreds of handicap curb ramps at intersections using federal stimulus funds. Prior to construction, the design and plan was approved by both the Federal Highway Administration and the Department of Justice. But somewhere after approval and before completion, regulations were changed and the new ramps don’t measure up.

As the Journal Star reports, the near-new curb ramps are slightly too steep — a difference that is barely noticeable for both walkers and wheelchair users, yet will cost $800,565 in federal and state funds to correct.

The city of Lincoln typically spends up to $500,000 annually on sidewalk repair. These mandated adjustments will put the city way over budget.

Lincoln city officials are agreeing to fund the alterations on 294 ramps. They’re worried of possible lawsuits and cut-offs in federal funding if they don’t. But that doesn’t mean they think this is the best use of their money in tight financial times.

Councilman Jon Camp calls the re-do an “absolute waste of money.”

Lincoln residents point out better ways for the money to be spent, “Some city street corners have no ramps at all, for example. And some city sidewalks have nasty patches and uneven sections that make navigation difficult for everyone.”

The wheelchair ramps might be too steep to comply with current standards. But the price of living up to ever-changing standards is much steeper.

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