By Mayor Brian Arrigo
No matter how many big-picture, long term plans we have for the future of our city, nothing is more important than the day-to-day fundamentals. Basic city services like street and sidewalk repair have a huge impact on our quality of life.
Historically, Revere has not done a good job of maintaining its infrastructure. There is no more glaring example of that than the decades of neglect of our water and sewer system, which led to the city being whacked with a multi-million dollar EPA fine and federal consent decree in 2009. That settlement has stretched city resources – and driven up your water and sewer bills.
My pledge to you is that Revere’s days of kicking the can down the road on infrastructure repair and maintenance are over. We can never again afford to cut corners. We know too well what the consequences are.
A comprehensive engineering department analysis of city streets I requested shortly after taking office suggests what we all know to be true: numerous streets are in dire need of repair or replacement. In addition, we face a three year backlog of sidewalk repair requests.
Over the past year, I have taken steps to make sure our approach to infrastructure repair going forward is data-driven and comprehensive.
Street and sidewalk repairs should be dictated by need, prioritized by the seriousness and importance of the issue. To that end, we conducted an analysis of some of the city’s most worn down streets last year, and rolled out a webpage giving residents a transparent, accountable explanation of how we chose which streets to reconstruct.
This year, we will take this transparent, thorough approach one step further. This coming Monday, I will go to the City Council to request funding to utilize the StreetScan program, which will examine all of our city streets and create an interactive map showing the level of wear and tear. Residents will be able to go online and see the analysis of each street, to know where their street lies compared to others in terms of decay. Using this information, we will develop a city-wide, comprehensive, transparent plan for street repair.
To catch up on our sidewalk backlog, we are also going to put together a scope of work and tackle years’ worth of necessary repairs.
Using data, we are working with DPW to more efficiently address potholes and trenches. We noticed last year that some potholes in our work order system were over 6 months old, but had not been addressed. Even now, the response time to a pothole can stretch over a month. We have made progress in reducing response time, but we still have a lot of work to do. Using our software program that will integrate with the 311 customer service center, we will create an automated work order system that will work to reduce pothole response time to days, not weeks.
We cannot rely on politics or convenience to make critical decisions on our infrastructure. We are living right now with the results of failures of the past. Our kids will have to live with the results of what we choose to do today.
These changes will not happen overnight. But by consistently stressing the fundamentals, and by using data and analysis to inform our work, we can keep our water clean, our streets and sidewalks safe, and our city thriving.