San Francisco Manages to Spend $700K for a Wheelchair Ramp

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I couldn't be more in favor of full access for the handicapped – just suggesting that the cost of building a ramp should be something less than $700,000.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported yesterday that a 10-foot ramp being installed in the Board of Supervisors' chamber over at City Hall is expected to cost $699,413 by the time it's done. To date $170,639 has been spent, which is what it cost for two different companies to come up with a design, plus another $38,000 for city staff time to "oversee" that planning. The remaining amount is an estimate and so the total could well exceed $700,000.

The median home sale price in San Francisco as of July was $676,000.

Why does a ramp cost more than a house (a San Francisco house)? Part of it is attributed to the need to have the ramp be consistent, to the extent possible, with the building's status as a historic landmark. That means $49,000 for "historically accurate brass handrails" and another $48,824 for "outside historic[al] experts to keep an eye on the work," in addition to the extra design costs attributed to this.

Only one supervisor voted against the project, citing the tremendous amount of money being spent on this project when many other access projects were still unfunded. The Board's president, David Chiu, said it was important that the project reflect San Francisco's commitment to be "at the forefront of access issues," and again, I'm all for that, but I'm not sure wheelchair-bound citizens faced with a broken BART elevator would agree with the priorities here.

On the cost issue, Chiu pointed out that the current amount is actually "significantly" lower than the original plan, which was expected to cost $1.1 million. I guess it all depends on how you look at it.

Last year, the city spent over $200,000 to move a bush.