As the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s new chairman of the board, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas met with state officials in Sacramento Monday to unveil his vision for Los Angeles County’s rapidly expanding public transit system and to seek millions in grant funding for various projects.
“LA County deserves a safe, reliable and affordable public transit system that increases mobility throughout the region, and is a catalyst for economic development,” he told officials, including California State Transportation Agency Secretary Brian Kelly and several members of the state Senate and Assembly at the Capitol.
Together with Metro Chief Executive Officer Phil Washington, the supervisor endorsed SB 767, which would allow Metro to seek a new sales tax via ballot measure to pay for additional rail and highway improvements; and AB1X-2, which would allow Metro to continue using private investment to hasten the construction of certain projects. The bills have been championed by state Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de Leon and Assemblyman Henry Perea, respectively.
Supervisor Ridley-Thomas, who assumed the chairmanship of Metro’s Board of Directors on July 1, also advocated for $8.6 million in grants for the Rail to River project, which would transform a blighted stretch of unused railroad tracks in South LA into a greenbelt with walkways and bikeways.
The proposed renovation of the Rosa Parks Station in Willowbrook received part of a $38.5 million grant last week, but the supervisor told state officials at least $3.5 million more is needed to complete the project.
Supervisor Ridley-Thomas’ trip coincided with the “extraordinary” legislative session called by Governor Jerry Brown to discuss California’s transportation infrastructure needs, and how to pay for it.