Dylan Feik, ICMA-CM, City Manager
Monrovia is the fourth oldest incorporated city in Los Angeles County, so it was not surprising that its aging infrastructure was plagued by a backlog of deferred maintenance. Components of the water and sewer systems were close to a century old, and while a satisfactory Pavement Condition Index rating is 70-plus, Monrovia produced a rating of 57.1.
Historically, limited resources had resulted in piecemeal fixes to stop a leaky pipe, replace a cracked sidewalk panel, or fill an aggravating pothole. To gain a comprehensive understanding of the condition of the infrastructure, the city commissioned four master plans to assess the street, sidewalk, water, and sewer systems, and to provide cost estimates for restoring them to healthy, reliable conditions the city can maintain going forward.
Based on the findings and recommendations in the master plans, the city was challenged to (1) develop an integrated approach to address $51.7 million of priority repairs; (2) determine how these repairs would be funded; (3) develop a plan to coordinate the work; (4) develop a communication and outreach plan to keep residents informed throughout the project; and (5) develop a plan for ongoing maintenance.
In response, the city launched Monrovia Renewal, an innovative multi-year initiative to prioritize repairs and restore the infrastructure to a healthy baseline state.
Throughout implementation, the city strategically planned and executed the work. Prior to street repairs, the city coordinated all underground work, including underground franchise utility work, to reduce the number of pavement cuts, and sidewalk repairs were performed by using a cost-effective diamond-cutting technique as an alternative to removal and replacement. To fund Monrovia Renewal, the city increased water and sewer rates for the first time in nearly a decade and secured bond financing for the street improvements, utilizing restricted funding sources.
Community outreach was identified early on as integral to the success of Monrovia Renewal. The city developed a comprehensive communication and outreach plan to facilitate the community’s understanding of the infrastructure improvements in their neighborhood, using its website, email newsletters, social media, and community meetings. To help gather input from residents and business owners, the city established the Monrovia Renewal Citizen Advisory Committee.
Since implementation, the city has completed approximately $41.7 million in improvements and repairs and raised the Pavement Condition Index to 85.5. Additionally, the city has made more than 8 million square feet of street improvements, 154,000 square feet of sidewalk replacements, 114,000 linear feet of new curbs and gutters, more than 2.5 miles of new water pipelines, nearly 5 miles of sewer improvements, 197 point repairs to sewer lines, and installed 800 new water service lines. To protect its investment, the city developed a Pavement Preservation Ordinance to limit construction activity on rehabilitated streets. A new Pavement Management System will ensure that every street is reviewed and maintained every six years—with cost-effective preventive treatments rather than more expensive rehabilitation.
Monrovia Renewal demonstrates how a city can work in partnership with residents, businesses, utilities, and other stakeholders to ensure that local streets, sidewalks, water and sewer systems, and other infrastructure can operate reliably and cost-effectively for decades to come.