The City has rescheduled reconstruction of Monroe St, to 2015. Budgetary issues caused the delays.
There have been two sessions in which the public was invited to make suggestions for the project. During the first, I suggested that the City adopt a design goal of not exporting stormwater to the lake for storms up to a selected intensity (let's say a two-year storm).
Such a goal would be easier to achieve if the City (or FoLLW) also adopted a program to encourage better handling of stormwater on private properties nearby. For example, if more people disconnected their downspouts from their driveways (and the street), then the Monroe Street project wouldn't need to handle as much stormwater.
During the second pubic meeting about Monroe Street, in which City staff summarized input from the first meeting, there was no mention either of adopting a stormwater export standard, or of a program to encourage better infiltration on private property.
The "Green Street" pilot program dropped
A green street seeks to reduce stormwater runoff and associated pollutants, bring natural elements into streets, and improve access for pedestrians and bicycles. A new green street program can create a standard for a neighborhood, generating pride. Since Monroe street is a gateway neighborhood to the City for a large number of commuters and visitors, it sets the tone for all of Madison.
When the Friends of Lake Wingra was holding regular meetings with City Engineering in 2012, the engineers mentioned Monroe Street as a possible prototype "green street" in Madison. This means Monroe Street would gain state-of-the-art features to filter, store, and infiltrate stormwater, in ways that make the area more inviting.
Stormwater curb extension in Portland, OR
Now is the time for neighborhoods--leaders, citizens, and associations--to begin talking about how we can make Commonwealth and Monroe streets something to make the neighborhood shine. Let's recognize this neighborhood for the extraordinary gem that it is, and rebuild the streets to fit that standard.
Streets are not only ways to get somewhere else. They are places where we spend time and experience life in the neighborhood.
Monroe Street is narrow, with high traffic. So it's going to take commitment, vision, and real determination--to achieve green infrastructure for that location.
But I believe it's possible. Below, I present several new designs that should be considered...
Stormwater curb extensions
These infiltrate runoff from the street--building a rain garden where several parking places formerly existed. These could be built on side streets to Monroe, such as Woodrow and Terry. The terraces on these streets could also be used for large rain gardens.
Underground injection drywells for stormwater
Portland has 9,000 of these Underground Injection Controls, or UICs.
Where space is tight, as along Monroe Street, here's a way to get runoff into the ground. These large structures work during heavy storms when rain gardens and other stormwater structures are overwhelmed. They can save money by making larger pipes unnecessary.
Erosion control DURING reconstruction
Monroe St. is close to Lake Wingra, so we hope the City will plan for rigorous erosion control, to avoid sediment spills like those from the 2010 resurfacing of Edgewood Av (below).