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Metro Board Narrows Choices to 3 Options for Crenshaw Line Northern Extension

Three images showing the evolution of proposed alignments for the Crenshaw Line Northern Extension. Left: five alternatives in October, 2019. Center: six alternatives in December, 2019. Right: final three choices approved for study by Metro’s Board of Directors this week.

At its monthly meeting yesterday, the Metro Board of Directors, chaired by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, approved narrowing down the possible routes for the Crenshaw Line Northern Extension to three final options.

Last year, Metro began seeking stakeholder input on proposals for a northern extension of its Crenshaw light rail line, which would eventually connect the line’s current northern terminus at Crenshaw and Obama Blvds. to the Red Line in Hollywood.  After a first round of community meetings in October, one possible route (which would join the Red Line at Wilshire and Vermont) was removed from the discussion, and a new “hybrid” option was added to the mix.  The hybrid route combined some elements of the two more westerly routes originally proposed.

Potential Crenshaw Line Northern Extension alignments as of December, 2019.

This month, the possibilities were narrowed even further, and on Thursday, August 27, Metro’s Board of Directors approved three final choices for the project.  The three finalists are:

Metro’s final three choices for the Crenshaw Line Northern Extension alignment.

A route that would go north up Crenshaw Blvd. to San Vicente Blvd., then west on San Vicente to La Brea Ave., and then north along La Brea to Hollywood. (#3 on the map at the right)

A route that would go north up Crenshaw Blvd. to San Vicente Blvd., then west on San Vicente to Fairfax Ave., and then north on Fairfax to Hollywood. (#2 on the map at the right)

The “hybrid” route introduced late last year, which would go north up Crenshaw to San Vicente, west on San Vicente, north on Fairfax to  Beverly Blvd., then west on Beverly and north to meet up with Santa Monica Blvd. in West Hollywood before following Santa Monica north and east to Hollywood.  (#1 on the map at the right)

Finally, as a new addition, Metro will now study an option to extend the line from the Hollywood/Highland Station to the Hollywood Bowl – something that has long been discussed, but never formally proposed.

At this point, none of the choices is a clear frontrunner.  According to presentations by Metro last year, the La Brea route for the main part of the line would be the most direct, involve the shortest travel times from end to end, and would be the least expensive to build. But it would also pass through the least dense neighborhoods and have the least number of high-use destinations, so it has the smallest ridership potential of any of the three choices.

The Fairfax route is a bit denser, and passes some more highly used destinations (The Original Farmers Market, Fairfax High School and others), so it would have somewhat higher ridership…but it would also face some serious engineering challenges, with no room for a station at the intersection of Fairfax and Santa Monica, and a very sharp right-hand turn at there as well.

Finally, the western-most option would have the highest ridership potential, because it would pass by the most heavily used destinations, including Cedars Sinai Medical Center…but it is also by far the longest route, with the longest travel time end to end, and it would cost the most to build.

Last fall, when the greater number of routes were being discussed, with at least two them following San Vicente to La Cienega Blvd., residents of Carthay Circle and nearby communities spoke in out opposition to those alignments.  The neighbors voiced serious concerns that an above-ground route in that area would bisect the historic community and that it would also remove valuable green space and mature trees from the San Vicente median.  (The median was once part of the old Red Car streetcar line, but it has since been improved with trees and green space it didn’t originally have.)

Daniel Tallelian, a Carthay Circle resident who organized a neighborhood meeting with Metro officials in December, told the Buzz that he’s glad the final Crenshaw Line options no longer include that area, but he noted that other neighborhoods abutting the final three alignment choices may still face similar issues.

“I am happy the route spared Carthay Circle,” Tallelian said, but he added that he also hopes Carthay residents will stay involved as the project develops, and continue to speak up about concerns in those other neighborhoods as they did in their own.

Meanwhile, Jim O’Sullivan, president of the Miracle Mile Residential Association, said that his group is already on record opposing an at- or above-grade route along San Vicente Blvd., and that opposition remains.

At this point, the areas in which each of the potential routes would run at grade level, underground or elevated above grade level  is not yet finalized. Those decisions will depend on things like space, traffic, road crossings, and other engineering challenges at various points along each potential route. And those things will be part of Metro’s research and planning process as the project moves forward.

Now that that Metro has approved the final three choices for the new line extension, the next step will be a multi-year environmental review of all three potential alignments.  No final selection will be made until after that environmental review process has been completed.

Finally, it’s worth noting that, at this point, construction for any part of the Extension, along any possible route, is not planned to begin until 2041. But as we’ve also previously reported, both Metro and the City of West Hollywood are looking into additional funding sources which could significantly accelerate the schedule, with construction beginning just a few years from now.  Whether or not that happens, however, the agency is doing as much planning work as it can right now, so the project will be “shovel ready” if and when the funding comes through.


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Elizabeth Fuller
Elizabeth Fuller
Elizabeth Fuller was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN but has lived in LA since 1991 - with deep roots in both the Sycamore Square and West Adams Heights-Sugar Hill neighborhoods. She spent 10 years with the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, volunteers at Wilshire Crest Elementary School, and has been writing for the Buzz since 2015.

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