Monday, March 21, 2011

Harangue -- More Wasted Tax Dollars

harangue: An impassioned, disputatious public speech; A tirade or rant, whether spoken or written; To give a forceful and lengthy lecture or criticism to someone.

Everyone who has half a brain knows that our government is spending far too much of our (and our children's, and grandchildren's...) hard-earned tax dollars, in an attempt to spend itself into prosperity.

Well, my mama knew better than to think that.  She understood that her thrift would make her more prosperous -- not necessarily wealthy, but certainly better off.

Mama was right.  

Even drunken sailors know that.  Look here:

Remember when I rode over to the mill town of Newry?  It is a sleepy little village with not very many inhabitants.  It is certainly not a prosperous town, but the people who live there do the best they can economically, likely on a very slim budget.  Their tax dollars are being spent frivolously, right in their town.

Look here.

That yellow thing is an installation of the government-mandated detectable warning surface on sidewalk curb ramps to alert visually impaired people to potential hazards. There are raised "truncated domes" on the surface, so that you can feel them when you step on it.
[photo from ADA Solutions]
Well, on the surface (pun intended), this seems like a good idea.  People who don't see well might avoid stepping onto the street inadvertently.  Of course, that is why they make curbs -- to keep vehicles mostly in the street, and to make a clear demarcation between the sidewalk and the street.  A person with limited sight many times uses a white cane, and the curb is easy to feel with it.  The "truncated domes" are not as easily detected using a cane, and if the color difference is desirable, paint applied to the curb is an inexpensive alternative. (And what about jay-walking visually-impaired people?  They might step off a curb anywhere.) 

Ah, but I forgot.  This is government protecting us.

It occurs to me that the domes also have significant disadvantages.  They are more easily tripped on by those who don't pick up their feet when they walk.  If there is snow, it cannot be removed from between the bumps, leaving a potentially slippery area right next to the street -- not a good thing. Also in cold climates, snow and slush collect at the lowest points, usually near the curb due to road crowns, so the ramp is a natural place for that stuff to collect and refreeze, making it very hazardous.  Curbs don't have that problem. 

Here is another disadvantage.  Those who might be in a wheelchair will have much more difficulty getting over the bumps than if there were a smooth ramp instead.  Mothers with children in strollers, and toddlers riding tricycles along with mama will also have more trouble. 

I have always thought of myself as reasonably able to safely navigate along on my own two feet, but I have many times tripped, even on one of the smooth concrete sidewalk ramps, because it is difficult to see where the slope starts compared with a very distinct curb.  I don't think this is just a matter of my clumsiness. 

The Virginia Department of Transportation evaluated warning surfaces for detectability by the visually impaired and their ease of maneuverability for the mobility impaired.  Their study pointed out the above disadvantages (except for my tripping-on-a-ramp problem). 

There is one more disadvantage, and it is a doosey.  Ultimately, Virginia's study reported that 15,000 new sidewalk curb ramp installations are needed within the state right of way alone. The estimated cost of these ramps is $7.3 million, or about $500 for each ramp. I'll bet that is a low figure, when you have to consider cutting out the old curb and sidewalk, pouring the ramp and installing the truncated dome material. 

That last little issue hasn't stopped the spending.

Furthermore, the bumps are required in private, commercial construction as well, so the cost of this regulation is much higher.  Who pays?  We do, in higher prices and in lost opportunities to spend the money to better advantage. 

Periodic maintenance is also a consideration  -- and cost.  

Look at the ramp in Newry again, from a different angle.

Yep.  You're not seeing things -- or it would be better to say that you don't see something you expected to see.

There is no sidewalk anywhere nearby, only the new ramp.

What on earth good is a ramp without a connecting sidewalk?  I even went back to Newry three weeks later, thinking maybe they would have installed a sidewalk to connect with this fine new ramp.  Nope.  Nada.  Zip.  Not a sign of one.  No stakes in the ground.  Nothing. 

How many disabled people would need the ramp, if they have already walked across the uneven turf to get there?  They're not stupid.  They would probably walk in the street instead.  ...and even though this particular ramp is located on the Newry town square, there is very little traffic to be protected from.

Did you also see that pile of leaves that has collected at the foot of the ramp?  Couldn't those become slippery if they were wet?  Who will sweep them away to protect us?  

Maybe I'll get flamed for this post, but wouldn't it be a good idea to forgo these ramps and their fancy bumps -- and a whole lot of other government waste -- so we can concentrate on not spending against our future prosperity?

Then again, we may all be walking soon because we'll be so poor that we can't afford cars or motorbikes.  But what use will the ramps be?: To protect us from the [lack of] traffic on our roads? 

The voting booth is the place to be next November to finish off the liberals who enjoy spending our money so freely. 

Meanwhile, I am certainly glad they are spending your tax dollars and not mine for things like this.

Previous Harangues:



    1 comment:

    Mike said...

    I guess I'm the only one who agrees with you on the fact that we're spending way too much and the government is gaining too much control. I don't understand why it seems we are blindly (no pun intended) heading in this direction and almost no one in public office is objecting.

    Keep speaking the truth!