Posted: 01/12/08 17:40, Edited: 01/12/08 17:42
This is not just a stairway....it is a symbol. A $1,000 per step symbol of a department that can't decide the difference between frugality and excess.
This stairway was needed at the I-35 Bridge collapse. The Pioneer Press pointed out this little "monument" to the recovery process. The discussion about the why and how much is a relevant one.
MnDOT defends the "stairway". People needed to get down the embankment to the river. It was imperative for rescue workers and demolition crews to get to the river bank. Stairs were needed and there wasn't time for bidding. The cost, at the time, was secondary.
I understand the argument. It has some relevance. But as you look at this picture, some questions arise. Look to the left of the bottom section. There is a path through the snow that seems to indicate nobody is bothering with using that bottom section. Also, the stairway looks pretty narrow to be moving any equipment up and down. The article points out that the stairway is partly dismantled now.....probably not used much. If the stairway was never meant to be permanent, why couldn't cheaper methods have been employed? Maybe simply hauling in dirt and making a gradual slope to the river. Maybe a rope ladder or pulleys. I can't imagine the National Guard doesn't have equipment that can be utilized for this purpose.
In the larger scheme of things, this "stairway" is not the big issue; but it is part of a pattern. The bidding process that led to a largesse contract.... the repair work that was by passed because of costs..... the hiring of inspection teams, only to ignore their advice, the cost overruns on Wakota, and the Crosstown debacle.
Maybe $157,000 can get lost in contracts that cost millions, but that stairway begs the question. Are Minnesota's transportation issues being addressed properly? We have to answer that a $1,000 step at a time.
*photo from Pioneer Press article -- Jean Pieri, photographer