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Chicago Sidewalk and Budget

Filed under:  Opinions-Tips
 
Comment(s): 16
 
 

The Chicago budget deficit issue has risen to such a confrontational level in this city that it has driven me to do another post on what I believe is contributing to the overall waste.

Mayor Richard M. Daley proposed that the City trim non-union personnel costs by $10 million, but the ongoing waste in this city continues, like the crosswalks, speed-bumps, and this sidewalk example explains.

Now I know this is basically all about cars, but I just had to bring this up since sidewalks are somewhat related to "streets".

Just to be clear, I am not opposed to improvements, in fact, I think this city is one of the most beautiful ones in the nation, and I believe it is because of all of the great new places and services the city has put in place.

My issue with this particular sidewalk project is two-fold. First, something has to go. It is just the nature of "tough times", and when you have the city contemplating laying off workers to save money, then I think a sidewalk can wait. It's not even that the sidewalks were damaged, or needed repairs, they are simply putting what is supposed to be a non-slip corner.

Second, and here's where the main problem is for me (aside from the massive cost)....

First, they start with an already perfectly good handicap-accessible sidewalk....

chicago sidewalk and budget 1

Then they have to tear up the entire corner and sides...

chicago sidewalk and budget 2
chicago sidewalk and budget 3

They fill it back in with cement and cap it with these pink "non-slip" tiles...

chicago sidewalk and budget 4
chicago sidewalk and budget 5

Then 3 to 6 months later, they all start to crack...

chicago sidewalk and budget 6
chicago sidewalk and budget 7
chicago sidewalk and budget 8
chicago sidewalk and budget 9
chicago sidewalk and budget 10

The cracks get to the point were the entire tile simply disappears, leaving a hole for people to trip on...

chicago sidewalk and budget 11

And, this is the best part, the city comes in and fills the hole with cement, leaving the sidewalk exactly as it was vefore this whole expensive mess started...

chicago sidewalk and budget 12

This happens on every single corner without fail (no pun intended). Something smells here. I can not believe that the city is not aware of the lifespan of these tiles and continues to waste taxpayer money like this.

It just doesn't make any sense, and here are more a full three years later...

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LINKS
City Of Chicago   Official site.
 
 
COMMENTS
Bryan2738 days ago

Maybe it's because they're mandated by law?

http://www.ktvb.com/news/iwonder/stories/ktvbn-apr1409-yellow_sidewalk_ramps.d4426778.html

I found a few things when searching for "detectable warning surfaces"

I hate unnecessary road work as much as the next guy, but some cities have tough times fighting federal statutes.

Brian2738 days ago

I wasn't able to find the relevant section of the ADA, so I'm wondering: does it mandate that they disintegrate after three to six months? Does it require a six to eight week gap (an estimate based on my experience in Uptown) between the time they tear out the old sidewalk and pour the new one? Does it demand a six man S&S crew (one guy to work, five guys to watch)?

David2738 days ago

It looks like a simple design flaw: they crack because they're too thin.

The slabs should:

1. be thicker - around 2 inches - so as to provide a solid base, and

2. be smaller - maybe a foot square - so as to minimise the effect of cracking.

Richard B.2738 days ago

Sad fact is we live in a litigious country. I bet that the city of Chicago is responding to experience or threat of inevitable litigation for slips, falls or claims of discrimination from ACLU lawyers when it decides how to appropriate funds. It has little to do with saving jobs or "what makes sense."

Tort reform, such as limits on claims and appeals, would bear dramatic benefits. It's not likely to happen, though, since political contributions and lobbying pressures from wealthy law firms and lawyers will prevail.

(This same concept applies to the current state of health care, btw.)

chris2738 days ago

Astute observation - the trail lawyers have the Democrats in their pocket - that's why there's no tort reform in the healthcare either.
Soon the fed will be telling us what cars we can drive - how far we are allowed to drive them and still tax us to death.
Just watch how the current admin is consolidating it's power base.
And we thought Bush was bad?
Watch OUT!!!
They think they know what's best for you and the planet!!!!
Such arrogance!!!

Patrick McGovern2737 days ago

Or... Maybe this is a sponsored ad by the Fox network - look @ the blue cane in the last pic - they're advertising for the new season of House - and all of us took the subversive bait.

Eric2737 days ago

I don't get it!? Were there thousands of people slipping on these corners the last, say 90 years, of having sidwalks? Someone paid someone and is getting their fat cut of an unnecessary city contract. Short shelf life, job security for those workers.

killian2728 days ago

Right on! It is chicago policy to redo these if there is any roadwork done at all in the intersection. This is a sort of tax for other depts that need to rip a street up because they also have to redo these silly pads. I'd wager there is a sweet contract to supply these pads at a hefty markup-

This sounds like a good example of an ADA req that has overstepped it's usefulness. These might make sense in some high traffic areas like Michigan Ave, but does the benefit outweigh the cost of putting one in every city intersection?

Sloped sidewalks = good and sensible, rubber pads = dumb and expensive.

Mark2717 days ago

Yes, you are right. As a person (and a taxpayer) who requires a detectable surface to know when to stop (rather than, you know, walking out into traffic), I should know better than to venture away from "high traffic areas like Michigan Ave".

I must be some sort of wrong-thinking heathen to have the idea that I might want to be able to get around in my own neighborhood, or perhaps go out for dinner or possibly to work.

Keep us in our designated areas - out of sight, out of mind? Yeah, that is a forward-thinking way to treat fellow taxpayers. Why not just set up good ol' 19th-century asylums and shut us in so we don't offend you by our heinous crime of wanting to get around?

Unbelievable.

Freemage2717 days ago

Okay, just read Unca Cecil's take on things at http://chicago.straightdope.com/sdc20090917.php

1: It has nothing to do with people slipping--they're meant solely to alert the visually handicapped be aware that they are reaching the end of the ramp.

2: A lot of those sloped ramps were too steep by ADA standards in the first place, hence getting ripped up, usually as part of other work on the same stretch of street. Arguably, that's actually a good way to SAVE money, rather than doing the projects independently.

Now, as for the cracked mats--that's more likely the Chicago Way at work. Obviously, they need better designs.

Ooine2716 days ago

What a waste of money.

Disco Prime2713 days ago

Regarding the comment above about the thickness of the mat, it really is a material type issue. We have these all over Phoenix and they last well. The material can handle the heat, sun, and temperature changes (remember, we go from freezing to 120F). Of course, your winters are colder which would mean that the material is cracking from extreme cold. If the civil engineers cannot realize this, get with the manufacturer (ADA solutions) of the tiles and let them know they need more plasticizers or a different rubber compound alltogether.

Then, good luck. This will require a butt load of funding for "studies". Meanwhile, the thugs in the Chicago gov't will continue doling monies to their cronies for busy work.

lawsontl2713 days ago

OK, fair enough the original purpose. Design and implementation need a serious review, however. Clearly, they need to last longer. And, could they perhaps make them so that those of us who are not visually impaired don't get hurt on them? I've learned that whenever I'm in any type of heel - be they impractical pumps or funky boots - I have to go around these tiles. Two sprained ankles later, and I've sued no one, but I sure would appreciate NOT having to aim around them while also trying to dodge the oncoming traffic ready to run through the light.

TXMarko2713 days ago

Great post!

Awesome documentation of some seriously shoddy materials.

I do hope the description of the "perfectly good" sidewalk was satire, though, because it looks to me like it might last just one more Chicago winter before that whole chunk in the center busts loose.

As for these obviously substandard "non-slip surface" panels, I would wager an ice cold 12 pack of beer that the person who authorized the installation of said substandard surface JUST SOMEHOW HAPPENS to be connected to the contractor who sold/installed it.

Mark2712 days ago

ARGH. It is NOT NOT NOT NOT a "non-slip" surface.

At least READ the legal requirements - these have NOTHING to do with slipping or not slipping or non-slip or slip-sliding-away. They are DETECTABLE edges so that people like myself who are visually impaired can get around and do things like WORK so we can pay our fair share of taxes.

Yes, the ones here in Chicago are cheap-ass crap and are falling apart. But they DO have a valid and necessary purpose, as I thought I clearly stated in my comment about five above.

Non-slip? NO. Detectable surface? YES.

If you are going to bitch about giving people like me basic mobolity, at least get the lingo right when you call it a waste of money.

Mark2690 days ago

...and in the past they used concrete to make the bumps. a lot of suburbs pressed chain link fence into the sidewalk and voila, bumps. why the switch to plastic? waste of $$$$$

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