Saturday, October 11, 2014

Detroit Madness: Wheel Chair Ramps to Nowhere

The Detroit News reports:
This summer, Detroit spent tens of thousands of dollars replacing sidewalk wheelchair ramps in little traveled areas.

The bankrupt city put in ramps, costing about $10,000 per intersection, along crumbling sidewalks along Warren near Conner. In one half-mile stretch, from St. Jean to Cadillac, there are 52 new sets of ramps.

Some face brick walls. Others provide access to an empty lot where Helen Joy Middle School stood until it was razed in 2009. On many corners, sidewalks end after the ramps.

"You drive down some of these streets and there are blocks of no houses, but pretty new curbs," said Sherman Hayes, 84, a retired nurse who lives nearby on Lakewood Street. "Look at all these ramps to nowhere. It makes my blood boil."

Detroit officials say they have no choice. The work is the latest in a decadelong, court-imposed effort to force Detroit into compliance with federal handicapped accessible laws...

The work is far from over: City officials estimate they need to build another 50,000 ramps for $60 million to comply... 
Within the past year, new ramps were installed a few blocks south of Warren in front of a burned-out liquor store at Cadillac and Canfield. The sidewalk ends 10 feet after the ramp, which is overgrown with weeds. Over on Kercheval, ramps provide access to empty lots and burned out homes near Canton.
I would imagine, given Detroit's fiscal condition, that there are many federal laws that the city is not in compliance with.  I would like to know who the contractor is and his ties to city officials.

(ht Mark Perry)


  1. The installed curb ramps in a median strips of a busy road in my city - in a place where I've never seen any human walk: here's a pic before the repairs:

  2. The ultimate keynesian stimulus: infrastructure jobs that put people to work. I thought this was supposed to make us rich?

  3. This is what socialism looks like in the real life. Soviet Union was like that.

    The explanation is, of course, requires understanding the economic calculation problem - the bureaucrats spending money which was taken from others by force have no hope of understanding if what they are doing is useful to anybody - this information has been lost the moment they took these money away. It should not surprise anyone that even if they are pure angels with nothing but the best wishes the result will be exactly the same: the ruin.

  4. My departed former roommate was bound to a wheelchair and his life getting around was pure hell. As a courtesy to him, I'll never oppose these. If we want to have an urban street open to cars, we need sidewalks open to humans, IMHO.

    1. Do you really believe installing ramps on curbs that go nowhere would have helped your friend get around Curtis? What "we" (YOU) want and what "we" (I) want are two different things. How about this: I won't force you to pay for my wants and you don't force me to pay for yours.

    2. Curtis -

      I imagine it was difficult for your friend to get around but it certainly wasn't the fault of a lack of social services provided by the Govt that have no economic calculation. Like Averros says above, they have no hope of understanding if what they are doing is useful to anybody. The object is to let entrepreneurs determine if it's a good use of resources to make their property handicap accessible. I find it hard to believe that say, amusement parks for example, wouldn't build wheelchair ramps if they weren't forced.

      More importantly, you're willing to overlook the extreme waste of resources associated with these types of Govt projects just because 'we need sidewalk open to humans'? That's a leftist argument, one built on a emotion. Isn't it possible there's a better alternative?