Your tax dollars at work – DOT edition

Mar 28, 2011, 11:01 PM | Updated: Apr 6, 2011, 12:44 pm

How much does it cost the DOT (the taxpayers) to install a sign next to the freeway?

I’ve had several requests from listeners to elaborate on this story I talked about on my show Monday.

The answer to the above question, according to WashDOT is anywhere from $30,000 to $77,000.

It is a staggering example of the waste that is government.

Here’s the cost breakdown courtesy of the Everett Herald:

Bronlea Mishler, spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation, responds: If we install a sign on the side of the road, it would cost: $2,000 to make the sign, buy the beams and rivets; $8,000 for two steel posts and concrete; $5,000 to clear brush and other landscape work before and after installation; $15,000 for maintenance crews to set up traffic cones, work vehicles, program highway signs and spend the evening doing the work. Total: $30,000

Okay – let’s break down the cost according to the DOT – and compare it to what I could do the job for:

$2,000 to make the sign, buy the beams and rivets

As for the reflective sign, it took me two minutes to find this website that sells highway signs – a best-quality speed limit sign is $52 – let’s say the freeway exit sign is ten times the size – and ten times the cost – I could get it for $500.

WashDOT = $2000

MonsonDOT = $625

$8,000 for two steel posts and concrete

Hmm… it took me about two more minutes to find these two 11-foot steel 8″x8″ I-beams. My cost: $125

I don’t know how much concrete the job would need – but I can’t imagine it’s more than five yards – I can get concrete for about $100/yard.

WashDOT = $8000

MonsonDOT = $625

$5,000 to clear brush and other landscape work before and after installation

$5000??? As someone in the Herald comments said, “$5000 to clear brush what did they do hire surgeons to cut it with scalpels?”

I’d have welfare recepients or inmates do this work for free – but let’s say I have to hire someone. I could find a couple college kids who could clear a huge area in three hours – $20/hr x 2people x three hours

WashDOT = $5,000

MonsonDOT = $120

$15,000 for maintenance crews to set up traffic cones, work vehicles, program highway signs and spend the evening doing the work

This one is unbelievable. Let’s say you have two guys driving a flasher truck to shut down a lane – they set up the cones. Get another truck with two guys driving the beams and sign. Another truck with two guys driving the equipment to set the beams and sign in place. If a crew of six can’t put up one sign in four hours, they should be fired.

Let’s say all six are paid an excessive $50/hour. Six x $50/hr x four hours = $1200.

WashDOT = $15,000

MonsonDOT = $1,200

And let’s say for all my money-saving brilliance on behalf of the people of SayWA, I get a $1000 supervisory fee. Look at how much I just saved the taxpayers:

WashDOT = $30,000

MonsonDOT = $3,570

There you have it – I could get this job done for about 12% of what the state spends.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: With all the hand-wringing in Olympia about how we’re not paying enough in taxes, if government was efficient, we could cut government in half and still have plenty of money to get everything done.

Dori Monson on KIRO Newsradio 97.3 FM
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Your tax dollars at work – DOT edition