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Department of Design and Construction

A general provision of American law is that the United States constitution is “the supreme law of the land (article 6, clause 2).”  Subject to federal supremacy, state law is superior to local government regulations.  Indeed, local governments are “mere” creatures of the state and thus subservient to it.  Last, and least, are various agreements and contracts, including local government contracts.

Another legal concept if that one can not delegate a power that one does not have.  Thus, New York City does not have the power or authority to raise an army so it can not delegate or contract to a company or individual that power.

So, you ask, why this discussion?  The Department of Design and Construction (DDC) undertakes the business of building physical things for the city, typically on behalf of other departments.  Thus, it installs new sewers and water mains for DEP, and new streets and paving for DOT.  In doing these tasks, it must comply with federal, state, and city law.  And so must its contractors and subcontractors.  They must comply with the law even if someone has (incorrectly) included a provision that is contrary to law.

The federal Americans with Disabilities Act requires special ramps at street intersections.  The New York City Administrative code (section 19-112) contains additional specifications for these ramps.  One of these requirements is that there be two ramps at each street corner unless the ramp position is blocked by a telephone pole, traffic light, or similar obstruction.

That may be the law, but even a cursory visit to any DDC project will show that the law is honored more in the breech.