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Federal grant will fund improvements to Willowbrook Metro station

Federal grant will fund improvements to Willowbrook Metro station
A pedestrian waits as a train passes by on at the Willowbrook Station. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

On Saturday, federal transportation officials will announce more than $10 million to refurbish one of the Los Angeles County transit system's busiest light-rail stations.

The $10.25-million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation will partially fund several changes to the Willowbrook-Rosa Parks station in South Los Angeles.

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The work, which may cost about $53 million, is expected to include better lighting, a longer train platform and improvements to the on-site Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department station.

Willowbrook-Rosa Parks is the fourth-busiest station on Metro's 80-station rail system. It is the sole transfer point between the Blue Line, which links Long Beach to downtown Los Angeles, and the Green Line, which connects Redondo Beach to Norwalk. The bus plaza there serves six bus lines.

"This station provides a valuable service to the neighborhood," said U.S. Rep. Janice Hahn (D-San Pedro), whose congressional district includes the station, in a prepared statement.

The Willowbrook-Rosa Parks station sits under the 105 Freeway. Residents have stressed during multiple community meetings that the area feels dark and unsafe, even during the day. With more than twice as many reported crimes as any other Metro rail station, the stop is the most dangerous in the system, according to staff reports.

Federal transportation officials awarded more than $600 million in grants this week to infrastructure and transit projects in 46 states. In a prepared statement, Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx said the programs will be "a shot in the arm" for innovative projects that create jobs and enhance the local quality of life.

Metro also received an $11.8-million federal grant to improve pedestrian and bicycle access to the 1st/Central station on the Regional Connector, the downtown subway project slated to open in 2020. Orange County received $10 million to improve one of Southern California's most infamous bottlenecks: the convergence of the 57 and 60 freeways.

In addition to station improvements, the grant could partially fund improvements to the adjacent Kenneth Hahn Plaza shopping area. Metro and local officials hope to re-imagine the area as a pedestrian-oriented commercial hub.

In a prepared statement,Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said the station will be a key link to Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital, which is slated to reopen in early 2015.

For more Los Angeles transportation news, follow @laura_nelson on Twitter.

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