Wave Staff Report
WILLOWBROOK — The Metropolitan Transportation Authority held a celebration Nov. 19 for the recently rebuilt and now state-of-the-art Willowbrook/Rosa Parks Station, one of the busiest in the agency’s transit system.
Among the officials attending were MTA board member Holly Mitchell, U.S. Rep. Nannette Diaz Barragán, MTA Vice Chair Jacquelyn Dupont-Walker and MTA CEO Stephanie N. Wiggins.
Earlier this year, the Willowbrook/Rosa Parks Station underwent a $129-million modernization. Improvements included an extended platform for A (Blue) Line trains, a new southern at-grade pedestrian crossing, an expanded mezzanine to expedite transfers between the A and C (Green) Lines, digital signs with real-time transit information, enhanced security systems, LED lighting and renovated stairs and elevators. The improvements benefit one of the most underserved communities of Los Angeles County.
“The MTA has transformed this transit hub into a safe, easy-to-navigate and comfortable facility that has become the pride of this community,” MTA board Chair Hilda Solis said. “We will continue to invest in transit facilities as part of our state of good repair program, which directly benefits communities that most need improvements — our bread-and-butter customers who depend on our transit services every day for work, medical services, education, shopping and entertainment.”
The Federal Transit Administration provided the MTA with a Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) discretionary grant for the implementation of the Willowbrook/Rosa Parks Station Master Plan. The nationwide competitive grant program creates jobs by investing in transportation infrastructure through local governments and transit agencies like the MTA.
“The state-of-the-art transit hub, for which the U.S. Department of Transportation provided a $10 million grant, steps up the experience in one of the region’s most underserved communities,” said Federal Transit Administration Region IX Administrator Ray Tellis. “We are pleased to support this station renovation, which will go far toward improving safety and accessibility for all who ride.”
Other station improvements include a new public plaza, the Rosa Parks Customer Center, transit security and transit court, a full-service Mobility Hub, wayfinding and signage upgrades, a new pick-up and drop-off zone, nine new regional and local bus bays, a new protected bike lane, a modernized park-and-ride lot with new electric vehicle charging stations and a pedestrian promenade connecting busy Wilmington Avenue to the station.
Two new site-specific artworks now honor the area’s history and offer an inviting transit experience for the Wilmington and South L.A. communities.
“The Willowbrook/Rosa Parks Station is now one of the premier transit hubs in our county, connecting residents from South Los Angeles to employment centers, schools, and tourist attractions in downtown Los Angeles, Long Beach, and beyond,” Barragan said. “With significant federal funding, this station was transformed from an outdated, unsafe transit stop to a state-of-the-art mobility hub for the future.”
“We now have a beautiful, bright, and modern station with all the bells and whistles, just as our customers deserve,” said MTA CEO Stephanie Wiggins. “This state-of-the-art customer service center is definitely an asset for Willowbrook and beyond.”
“The Willowbrook/Rosa Parks station is a vital gateway for the surrounding community, providing better access to local destinations such as the Martin Luther King Jr. Medical Campus, the Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science and the Kenneth Hahn Plaza Shopping Center,” county Supervisor and MTA board member Holly Mitchell said. “These improvements provide significant upgrades and expand the multimodal capacity of this station, allowing pedestrians, bicyclists, roller skaters and others to more easily access this station.”
The station is currently the second busiest light rail station in the MTA system after 7th Street/Metro Center in downtown Los Angeles.
The MTA will add Bus Line 53 (Central Avenue) to the Willowbrook/Rosa Parks Station in December. More bus lines are planned to serve the station in 2022.
The renovations were part of the MTA’s New Blue Improvements Project that included a $350-million overhaul of the entire A Line (Blue).
The MTA implemented a comprehensive environmental graphic design program for the station. Components ranged from station signage visible from major highways to a plaque honoring the memory of the station’s namesake, Rosa Parks.
Additionally, two new artworks were commissioned for the station. The first is “Gifts of Freedom and Knowledge,” a photo mural by artist George Evan that is located above the Rosa Parks Customer Center window. The mural celebrates South Los Angeles’ distinct neighborhoods, personalities, landscapes and cultural traditions.
The second artwork is “Second Line,” a grouping of sculptural parasols by artists Jamex and Einar de la Torre. The artwork celebrates Rosa Park’s legacy while offering shade and providing a focal point to the plaza.
“Ridership in the MTA’s bus and rail system is coming back,” county Supervisor and MTA board member Janice Hahn said. “The Willowbrook/Rosa Parks Station is now poised to better accommodate this ridership growth as we continue to recover from the worst impacts of this pandemic.”
Another MTA board member, Vice Chair Jacquelyn Dupont-Walker, said the event celebrated the legacy of Rosa Parks.
Other local organizations participating in the event included the Charles Drew University and Wilmington Inclusion Network (WIN), a local resource and training center, the East Side Riders Bike Club and the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department Transit Service Bureau.
The MTA also helped riders sign up for discounted low-income fare is easy passes and its community health partners provided a pop-up vaccine clinic for residents.