State Installing Heated Sidewalks Near Capitol

By: Lauren Zakalik Email
By: Lauren Zakalik Email

When you ask people where they want to see money spent in state government, the answer is usually pretty similar.

"I think education is number one," says LCC student Storm Barnes.

"Education," says mother Heather Wilson.

In fact, an EPIC-MRA poll shows 61 percent of Michiganders support enhancing school funding. But while we've had years and years of cuts to schools, $6.5 million is currently being spent on enhancing the sidewalks around the state Capitol, including $1 million to heat them.

"It's a multi-year project, funded since 2005. It should make it much safer and create efficiencies for us," says Kurt Weiss, who is the spokesperson for the Dept. of Technology, Management and Budget.

Weiss calls the improvements a necessity, with salt eroding the sidewalks and the snow causing

"From a safety standpoint, absolutely," he says.

When it's all said and done, they'll have heated walkways all the way from the Supreme Court to the Capitol. The state says it's a benefit to the people who work here and the people who visit here-- but what about the taxpayers?

"Sounds like kind of a waste," says Mark Rantz, who just moved to Lansing.

"I think it's a little ridiculous," adds Barnes.

Wilson didn't even believe us when we told her about the project.

"They're not, are they?" she says. "Yeah, that would probably make me pretty mad."

Weiss says this project isn't taking any money away from other departments. It's part of $3.8 billion "Jobs Today, Jobs Tomorrow" initiative, meant to improve the economy and give people jobs. Numbers weren't readily available as to how many jobs it's created.

Weiss admits it will take 20 some-odd years to see the cost savings of the heated sidewalks. With the cost around $1 million for the heating system, and $20,000 a year for salting and shoveling, the cost savings will not be immediate.

"I certainly understand how people could think this is frivolous," Weiss says, but wants people to remember it's meant to improve the economy.

He says there's been no discussion of putting the project off until better financial times, and no one has sued the state for falling because of the snow in recent memory, Weiss says.

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  • by Anonymous on Oct 26, 2010 at 07:53 AM
    There is no justification for wasting tax dollars in a time like this. Obviously some politician is hoping to take credit for 'creating jobs'. The government is out of control, period. Vote libertarian, at least government should start shrinking.
  • by Jon Location: Lansing on Sep 5, 2010 at 11:05 AM
    How many reasons are needed to vote all new people into office in November? This one is enough for me. It's time to take out the trash. Re-elect no one.
  • by David Location: North on Sep 2, 2010 at 12:52 PM
    It is disgraceful how Lansing blatantly rubs things like this in the tax payers faces and actually try to justify it. There are people out there fighting for their lives and Lansing wants heated sidewalks. Wonder who's buddy is getting this contract? Goes to show how much Lansing cares about the tax payers!
  • by Anonymous on Sep 2, 2010 at 07:16 AM
    And we actually have people in this state saying we should raise the income tax rate? So the state can waste money on projects like this? Yet another illustration of how out of touch our big-spending liberal politicians are. Hear me Granholm and dems?
  • by Jeff Location: Lansing on Sep 2, 2010 at 06:57 AM
    Are you kidding me! i will be at that posted Jim, let me know the time and place. heated sidewalks! what's next, moving walk ways?
  • by Jim Location: Haslett on Sep 1, 2010 at 06:18 PM
    I am organizing a protest of this foolish self serving spending. As soon as we find the rep. that proposed this idea and the contracter that was awarded the contract I want to set a date for an on site protest. Do I have your support?
  • by Anonymous on Sep 1, 2010 at 08:16 AM
    I work in the construction industry. If the cement was done correctly in the first place the rebar, mesh what ever wouldn't be going bad now. So this was done wrong in the first place, approved by someone not paying attention, and now we are paying again for it. But that seems to be the way the state works. It's like each dept is at war with every other part of their own dept and also every other dept. All these people care about is increasing the amount of money in their share. They will at the end of the year go on buying sprees just to spend it all. Sorry but I have seen them do it.
  • by Amber Location: Lansing on Sep 1, 2010 at 05:35 AM
    And this is why Michigan is such a wonderful place to live these days. Education, Public Safety? Who needs stuff like that when you can waste a crap load of money on completely idiotic stuff like heated sidewalks. What a complete waste!
  • by Anonymous on Sep 1, 2010 at 04:51 AM
    I like the idea of heated sidewalks if they done with geothermal and renewable resources. The excessive salting everyone does around is ridiculous. Of course, they have to salt or they would get sued for negligence.
  • by lacy on Aug 31, 2010 at 02:23 PM
    What representative put this on the bargaining block is what I want to know??? Who ever it is there a PORKER!! We need Education and Jobs people in the capitol get your heads out of your you know what please! There is to much wasteful spending going on. Why do we need so many new Government buildings and new Police buildings that were not even a needed expense! Who is going to start a protest to get these people out of the capitol? ?
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