Building Code

"Code Issues" and the Lone Escalators of Wyoming

After some good legal discussion over the past few weeks, we thought we’d spend this morning talking about the irreverent in the land use arena.  It is Thursday, after all, which means we are heading downhill toward a mid-July weekend.  Is there a better time for the light and irreverent?

There are two escalators in the entire State of Wyoming.  Two.  And both are located in bank branches in Casper, Wyoming.  Well, actually there are four escalators — in that there are two pairs of stairs, each pair with an “up” and a “down” — but calling that “four” is like saying there are two faucets in a washroom, one for “hot” and one for “cold”.  Still, remember, this is a State with dozens of distinct mountain ranges and a 9,000-foot difference in elevation between its lowest and highest points.  Maybe there are thousands of elevators, instead.  

Moreover, why are the only two escalators stationed in banks?  Is that fact weirder than the fact of only two escalators in the entire State?  These facts may tie for which is weirder.

Why does this matter?  On a personal level, it matters because the Litigator lived in Cheyenne for a year after law school, clerking in the federal courts.  On a professional level, it matters because it’s reported in The Atlantic that there may be building code and permitting issues associated with the dearth of escalators. Consider this explanation:

“There are code issues involved with escalators, which make them somewhat less popular,” [Dick] Mason [of the Cheyenne City Building Office] noted. “The code does not want openings between adjacent floors that are unprotected.” Say there’s a fire: stairways offer people enclosed ways to escape buildings, while escalators generally don’t. If you’re an engineer thinking about the best ways to move people between floors, escalators often lose the contest. Plus, escalators tend to be more expensive to install and maintain than their counterparts.

This makes sense to us from both a business and a legal standpoint.  The development of property and construction of buildings may not be an exact science, but we clearly can see that almost every detail has a reason behind it.  Think about this the next time you consider how important good guidance can be on a large-scale project.  

Next week, maybe we’ll explore how many “moving sidewalks” there are in Vermont.  Or in a Dan Hartman album.  The answer to the latter, is one.

Mike Thelen practices in Womble, Carlyle’s Real Estate Litigation and Land Use practice group. He regularly represents a wide variety of clients, from local governments to businesses, in land use and land development matters in both state and federal venues throughout North Carolina.  Follow the North Carolina Land Use Litigator on Twitter at @nclanduselaw.

Categories: Building Code

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