Merced Avenue Greenway Project: A Model for Future Greener Urban Street
The Merced Avenue Greenway Project aims to improve stormwater management and water quality along a 1.1-mile stretch of Merced Avenue in the City of South El Monte. The project also aims to decrease flood risk, increase vegetative cover including habitat restoration, improve active transportation through enhanced pedestrian and bike mobility, and reduce urban heat island effect. The project has a significant community outreach component and encourages ongoing educational and project development participation by community members, the key benefactors of the project. Final design is scheduled to complete in May 2020 with construction starting later in 2020.
The presentation will apprise and educate the audience on how this project serves as a pilot effort in developing design standards for future urban street retrofits in Los Angeles County to include climate change resilient stormwater Best Management Practices (BMPs) and urban greening elements. Additionally, the presentation covers the varying community outreach strategies utilized in order to keep stakeholders informed and involved during the project. During the presentation, the speaker engages the audience by posing questions and survey in order to derive parallels from other projects facing similar challenges, and how they were resolved on this project. This will encourage a cooperative atmosphere. Finally, the conference theme of “Envision the Future” will be addressed by the project being at the forefront of incorporating stormwater BMPs into urban street retrofits. The proactive efforts in community outreach and education throughout the project promote a sustainable future for stormwater management.
The project incorporates Low Impact Development (LID) elements wherever feasible to manage stormwater runoff, reduce impermeable areas, and maintain hydrologic functions that existed prior to major urban development including stormwater interception, shallow surface storage, infiltration, evapotranspiration, and groundwater recharge. The LID measures utilized for this project are designed to handle frequent smaller storm events or first flush, they include bioretention/rain gardens, infiltration facilities, and permeable pavements.
This project is a collaborative effort between the City of South El Monte and three non-governmental organizations to develop the project: The Council for Watershed Health, Climate Resolve, and Day One/Bike SGV. The Council for Watershed Health led the site development and technical water resource aspects, while Climate Resolve served as the technical lead on climate-related aspect of the project design considerations through incorporation of best practices from other regional climate resilience design efforts. Bike SGV served as the community outreach liaison overseeing vehicle, bicycle, and pedestrian counts. This unique partnership between smaller cities, non-governmental organizations, and community groups provides a model for other jurisdictions that may not necessarily have the capacity, funding, and/or expertise to oversee these types of green infrastructure projects.
Engaging the community in the design process is a key component of the project, as it impacts residents, visitors, commuters, and business owners alike. Shared benefits as well as possible impacts works towards building consensus and minimizes the potential for disarray during the detailed design phase. It’s essential to develop an overall design scheme that is functional, but it is even more critical to ensure that the community and stakeholders benefit from the transformation of the industrial corridor into a corridor that is safe for cyclists and pedestrians, and aesthetically pleasing. In addition to outreach events, the City maintains a website with project information to community stakeholders, informing them of upcoming community engagement events, and encouraging participation through online surveys and questionnaires.