COUNTY SUPERVISORS APPROVE MORE MONEY FOR ROADWORK $60 MILLION REQUEST CUT DOWN TO $10 MILLION.
Los Angeles County supervisors gave more money to the county's storm-embattled road department, but a $60 million infusion was whittled down to $10 million with the rest to be decided later this summer.
Department of Public Works acting Director Donald Wolfe said the new money was necessary in order to maintain funding for nonessential projects, not to maintain emergency road-building efforts.
Some of the money already set aside for nonessential projects had been redirected after winter storms caused $83 million in damage to Los Angeles County roads and related infrastructure.
The funding request came in an unusual fashion. Typically, a department needing more money will petition the Board of Supervisors directly through an item placed on the board's agenda.
In this instance, Public Works officials communicated through aides working with county supervisors for their need to keep $60 million in nonessential projects on track, Wolfe said. Otherwise some projects would be delayed.
Two supervisors - Gloria Molina and Michael D. Antonovich - then proposed an item on the board agenda transferring $60 million from the county general fund to the Public Works Department.
Supervisors Yvonne Brathwaite Burke and Zev Yaroslavsky asked Wolfe why the county must spend new money on nonessential Public Works projects when other pressing funding matters are at hand, such as the cutoff point this summer when a multibillion-dollar federal bailout of the county health system ends.
Their opposition led to the original funds transfer request being reduced to $10 million from the original $60 million.
Yaroslavsky told Wolfe it was his understanding that Public Works officials had not fully exhausted the agency's own funding reserves, which he estimated at $200 million. He accused Wolfe of pitting one supervisor against another in his bid to secure funding.
``I wouldn't have done that if I was in your shoes,'' Yaroslavsky told Wolfe.
In a telephone interview later, Wolfe said ``$200 million is the entire road fund. There is no reserve money in the road fund.''
Wolfe said federal rules restricting reimbursement for landslides has left Los Angeles County on the hook for stabilizing slopes. And a board memo cited the loss of $60 million to Public Works over the past three years in state road funding, due to budget deficits.
The total cost of road-related maintenance due to several waves of fierce storms this winter is now tabulated at $83 million, with the federal government expected to reimburse about $35 million. The Department of Public Works can still use federal money to repair actual road surfaces.
``This is the worst road disaster the county ever had,'' Wolfe said.
Closed Antelope Valley roads and their expected dates for reopening to through traffic.
--110th Street East from Avenue K to L: April 20
--130th Street West from Avenue A to B: July 1
--140th Street East from Palmdale Boulevard to Avenue Q: April 20
--150th Street East from Palmdale Boulevard to Avenue R: April 29
--50th Street East from Avenue E to D: April 20
--Arrastre Canyon Road south of Crown Valley Road: Nov. 9
--Avenue B from 110th to 130th Street West: July 1
--Avenue Q from 130th to 145th Street East: April 30
--Avenue R from 150th to 165th Street East: Thursday
--Avenue S from Longview Road to 165th Street East: Thursday
--San Francisquito Canyon Road: Dec. 31
Source: Los Angeles County Department of Public Works
REOPENINGS SCHEDULED (see text)
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|Publication:||Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)|
|Date:||Apr 8, 2005|
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