City of Long Beach Provided Comprehensive, Strategic Response During Recent Record-Breaking Storms

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Photo by Kit Logan

City crews have been especially busy since Dec. 17, 2010, the start of record-breaking storms that to date have dropped 10.95 inches of rain on Long Beach.

“The amount of rainfall that Long Beach received was unprecedented, and City employees did a great job prioritizing our responses, focusing first and foremost on public safety,” said Mayor Bob Foster.  “City crews are currently working diligently and strategically to help Long Beach return to normal by fixing thousands of potholes and clearing dozens of trees.”

Since mid-December, City crews have repaired approximately 3,000 potholes, a challenging job due to heavy traffic and water-saturated asphalt. During the initial rainfall, the City was filling an average of approximately 100 potholes a day with temporary “cold patches.”

It takes about 24 hours of dry weather before crews can start putting in the “hot patches” for the permanent fixes. Long Beach is currently using this method and fixing an average of 450 potholes a day, focusing on major thoroughfares and especially large potholes throughout the city. Repairs of potholes in residential streets and alleys, which have less traffic, will follow.

“The City is prioritizing our resources and our crews are working extra hours and holidays to ensure that the work gets done as quickly as possible,” said Mike Conway, Director of Public Works.  “We owe our City employees a great deal of thanks for all their efforts.”

“In the past, a record amount of rainfall like that would have caused serious damage due to the drainage issues we used to have with the Main Library roof, Arlington Street, Euclid alley, and other areas,” Mr. Conway continued.  “Now, thanks to infrastructure investments approved by the Mayor and City Council, these areas withstood the storm’s assault with minimal impact.”

Fortunately, the City of Long Beach is in the middle of its most aggressive street repair program in decades, with a lot of newly refurbished streets weathering the storm very well, thanks in part to the use of rubberized asphalt. In addition to being environmentally friendly, rubberized asphalt makes roads less absorbent, and more flexible, and therefore less prone to potholes.

In addition, during the storms, the City:

Removed 72 downed trees along city streets and in city parks;

Closed problematic streets during the heavy rain periods and safely routed traffic to alternate routes;

Responded to hundreds of weather-related calls for police and fire services, including 203 traffic accidents (32 with injuries), 22 stranded motorists, five power outages, and 14 broken traffic signals;

Responded to more than 80 reports of flooding throughout the City;

Repairing broken pumps at two pump stations, and restored power after a power outage at a third, to alleviate flooding;

Provided and replenished filled sandbags for the elderly at the 4th St. Senior Center and the El Dorado Senior Center, as well as sand bins at Fire Stations 5, 7, 12, 13 and 14, to ensure that residents and businesses could use sand bags to protect their property; and

Whenever possible, crews picked up palm fronds and other hazards as they traveled from incident to incident.

To report a pothole, the public is encouraged to try the City’s new smartphone application Go Long Beach.  The application allows users to upload a photo of graffiti, sidewalk damage, or potholes, and then uses GPS tracking technology to instantly report the location of the issue.  Android users can download the “Go Long Beach” App from the Android Market and iPhone users can download the app from the App Store.  Blackberry users can access the service from the mobile web App at www.golbcity.com, which is also available to anyone with Internet access.

Infrastructure Investments That Paid Off

Since these traditionally problem areas didn’t require nearly as many resources as they used to during the storms, the City of Long Beach was able to put more staff and resources in the field where they were needed to help the whole community.

Arlington Street

The City of Long Beach used American Recovery and Reinvestment (Stimulus) Act to fund a new storm-drain system in the Arlington neighborhood, which has experienced severe flooding at least seven times during the past 20 years.  The project was completed just before the heavy rains that hit Long Beach in January and February of last year, thus preventing flood damage to the homes in this area then and during the most recent storms.

Main Library Roof

The Main Library roof suffered from extensive water intrusion during wet weather due to the deteriorating condition of the waterproofing membrane and interior drain lines.  In order to prevent further damage to the library interior improvements, books, collections, artwork, computers and furniture Public Works staff removed all 10.4 million pounds of dirt and vegetation from the roof and applied a temporary waterproof barrier to mitigate major leak issues.  The new roof that has been installed not only protects valuable library contents, but also provides a safe, accessible learning facility for City residents.

Euclid Alley

Euclid Alley was an unpaved alley that is commonly used for access by property owners, refuse vehicles, utility trucks, and provides emergency access for public safety vehicles, which was a historical problem area for flooding.  The pavement and repairs to the Euclid Alley improved the City’s infrastructure, eliminated future flooding of private property from a public right of way.

Street Repair Project

Federal Stimulus Funds were used to repair 11.2 miles along 10 major arterial streets throughout the City of Long Beach.  This is the largest street repair project in Long Beach in more than a decade, and these streets were among the least affected by the recent storms.

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