In today’s Daily News, Stu Bykofsky writes about the new curb cuts that have popped up across Center City, South Philly, and West Philly in the past six months or so. If you live in these neighborhoods, you’ve surely noticed that many of your corners have been torn up in 2012, and replaced by new corners possessing brand new curb cuts. These curb cuts, often red in color, feature small tactile bumps called truncated domes.
New curb cut
New federal regulation is the reason for this massive public works project, with the intent to make street crossing easier and safer for the handicapped. Not only do the new curb cuts make it easier for people in wheelchairs to get up onto and down from the sidewalk, but the red ramps are easier for the visually impaired to see and feel, making everyday life safer. The mission of these new ramps is praiseworthy, but the execution has been shoddy and the cost is astronomical.
As Bykofsky points out in his story, the pitch of many of these new corners is such that storm water has a terrible time reaching storm drains. As a result, after heavy rains, many remain waterlogged for days. Corners newly poured by developers building new homes have been torn up after mere months, only to be reengineered and rebuilt by City subs. In addition, numerous corner businesses have had to suffer through weeks of frustrated customers forced to walk over demolished corners.
Hellen's Cleaners during the summer
The price tag for this project is what truly blew us away. According to Streets Department Deputy Commissioner David Perri, the cost of the project will be $858M. In a city with 22,000 intersections, this comes out to an average of $39K per intersection. Holy smokes.
Clearly, the City isn’t in any position to foot this bill, and we understand that the Federal government is pitching in. But even if the City is only on the hook for half of the bill, that would represent about ten percent of the entire yearly budget for the City of Philadelphia. We get it that this project will take many years to fully implement, but we’re left worrying- what happens when, halfway through the project, the Federal regulations change again and we have to start from scratch? And how in the world does it cost between forty and sixty thousand dollars to rebuild an intersection?
Truly, the mind reels.