British Government Waste: Illustrated

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A Tory MP in Britain has been campaigning for a crosswalk to be installed near a school in his district. The request was turned down as too expensive, so Oliver Letwin requested a breakdown of the costs with the idea that he could raise the funds locally. The Highways Agency promptly sent his the estimate.

£114,000 or $228,000 dollars. For a crosswalk. Oh, excuse me, a "zebra cossing". Like the Beatles' Abbey Road album shows.

How much would you think it costs to build a zebra crossing?

A couple of workmen, a few pots of black and white paint, two Belisha beacons – it doesn't sound like a lot.

Yet it emerged yesterday that the Highways Agency spends a staggering £114,000 on each new pedestrian crossing.

Incredibly, the figure for the familiar black and white crossing includes £11,000 for "design work".

A further £16,000 is spent on the beacons, electrical wiring and road signs while the remaining £87,000 is swallowed up by labour costs, the equivalent of three and a half years pay for the average worker.

Every year, just before school starts, the town I live in repaints all the crosswalks. Two guys put out road cones, block a lane of traffic and run their little paint machine to spray line on the pavement. They move to the next corner while the first one dries, then go back, move the cones and do the next lane. Takes them a day to do all the crosswalks in the areas around the schools.

I just have to ask them how much they charge for design work.

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