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Monday, August 29, 2011

Infuriating government waste

Government waste infuriates everyone.


To conservatives, it’s more proof that government is inefficient and not to be trusted.


To liberals, they are an embarrassment – like when it’s YOUR kid that gets suspended from school.


With this in mind, the following cautionary tales about Chicago mass transit.


Tale #1: the CTA Brown Line




“Some of the wood platforms on the recently renovated the CTA Brown Line are deteriorating at a rapid pace. [the platforms were put in 3 to 5 years ago]

The prematurely decaying wood is worst at the Francisco station, where the entire platform will be replaced between September and the end of the year. Chopper 7HD found some work is already underway.

It will cost an estimated $150,000 to $175,000. The Chicago Tribune reports the CTA has already spent $350,000 to replace sections of wood at other stations.

The CTA says a fire retardant chemical used to treat the wood has not held up well when exposed to the elements.”

Even most dimwitted homeowners know that you have to either use pressure treated wood or paint the wood in exterior applications.  Yet the CTA, incredibly enough, did neither.  They used untreated pine sprayed with fire retardant – for platform after platform after platform.

How is this possible, given that wooden platforms have been used on the CTA for over 100 years? [question rhetorical]

Tale #2: the Glenview train platform


When Glenview got a new train station a few years ago, they also figured they needed a new platform – which they did, due to the construction.  But an asphalt platform with a yellow warning line to stand behind wasn’t good enough.  There were yellow warning tiles near the tracks, and a brick platform behind.


First to go were the plastic warning tiles. It seems that there was just empty space underneath them, and so they cracked and broke.  The rest had to be removed, a support layer of cement put underneath, and new yellow tiles put in.


Then the brick began to spall badly each winter. It seems these weren’t really bricks designed to last through cold weather Metra maintenance, and the top halves tended to break off in the winter.  After a couple of years of spring repairs, both platforms were ripped out and concrete put in. But not regular concrete – concrete designed to look like stone tiles!


Do commuters care? No. Most of us couldn’t even tell you what the platform looked like unless we looked down to check.



Note in contrast to the usual Chicago story of corruption, here we have simple basic incompetence (or maybe hubris with Glenview). 



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