Motion on Crenshaw/LAX Line moved to full Board of Directors

The Board of Directors’ Measure R Delivery Committee voted 2 to 1 on Thursday for a motion by Board member Mark Ridley-Thomas that seeks to add a Leimart Park station for the Crenshaw/LAX Line and also underground a portion of the line from 48th to 59th streets.

The committee vote moves the item to the full Board of Directors, who meet next Thursday. The motion proposes two key changes to the Crenshaw/LAX Line and I’m sure it will prompt an interesting discussion — especially because there is community support behind the changes.

The big issue, I expect, is the cost of making those changes at a time when Metro is facing possible declines in funding from both the state and federal governments. Under the current planning process, the tracks between 48th and 59th would run at street level.

Ridley-Thomas and Board member Mike Antonovich voted for the motion. Board member Diane DuBois voted against, saying the issue needed to be decided by the full Board.

14 replies

  1. @Ronny
    You make very good points. And it is true that with full signal preemption, street running can be almost as fast as grade separation when accounting for local station stops. I agree with that. But when you look at the high standard to which the red line was built especially the fact that it was built for speed AND at the same time hitting direct destination points, I just feel like we should also be applying that standard to our other rail lines too since we ultimately did it so well with that line.

  2. Everyone seems to think that street running light rail will inevitably mean slow running trains that have to succumb to the terror known as the red light traffic signal. Sure a street running train will never be as fast as a subway or an elevated structure but having a good signal preemption for mass transit vehicles can help reduce the time difference. Metro needs to pressure LADOT, Long Beach Transit, and whoever is in charge of the traffic Lights in East LA to give signal Preemption to the Light Rail lines

    I just feel a lot of these comments seem to be of the agenda to discredit the use of street running light rail. The crenshaw line is not going to have a problem of speed most of it runs in a private right of way with plenty of elevated and underground structures. I just don’t that undergrounding this 1 mile section to save 1 minute of travel time is going to really make this line considerably much slower. Especially if it cost 200 million dollars to add with possibility of a station getting axed in the process of doing so

    I happen to be of the mentality of building many miles of rapid transit with average speeds of 25+ mph (Light Rail with mix of grade separation and street running) than a few miles transit with average speeds of 30+ mph (Heavy Rail or Entirely Grade Separated Light Rail))

  3. On the issue of equity. Just look at the red and purple lines. Those are fully grade separated (underground) lines and people are not complaining that hollywood blvd. or vermont avenue get to have tunnels while everyone else is left out… And I do not care whether its HRT or LRT because the type of rolling stock and power type is irrelevant.

    We need to start thinking of all of our LRT lines the way we did with the red line. This is only an issue because LRT “can” street run where as HRT physically cannot. Just because LRT is flexible does not mean it should focus on street running. If it does though, it needs to be thought of as more of a “subway or El on the surface” rather than “a large transit vehicle subject to common traffic signals”. The question we need to ask ourselves is are we actually trying to build real rapid transit? And as I said the rolling stock does not matter. There is a good reason the red line is our fastest rail line.

    I do agree though that if it really has to be a choice between taking money from expo or not having more tunnels on this line, then money certainly should not be taken from expo, but as a general philosophy of transit planning in LA, what I said previously I think should be the direction we go.

  4. Warren wrote: “Its only one mile and a station for Leimart Park that needs to be added. Two miles of the line is already approved to be underground.”

    It may be only one more mile of tunnel and one additional station, but money-wise it works out to $219 million for the additional tunnel and $155 million for the additional station.

    This is significant money: nearly $400 million combined. Where to get this money? The Ridley-Thomas motion suggests taking it from other approved and deserving projects, including Expo and the Green Line extensions.

    Leimert Park/Vernon station was not included because there are not many transfers at that point. But being a cultural center, I believe it is worth the $155 million.

    The tunnel south of 48th Street, on the other hand, does not make sense, given the cost. This is a very wide boulevard, through a neighborhood of single-family homes, with plenty of space for light rail.

    More than this, there is an issue of equity. Many other neighborhoods would also have preferred a tunnel but didn’t get one, so it would hardly be fair to them to build all of the line under Crenshaw as a subway, even where it is not needed.

    Build tunnels where they are needed. But not in suburban Park Mesa Heights.

  5. I do agree that metro needs to keep the bigger picture in mind but I do not agree that keeping Park Mesa at grade is cutting corners. Metros own report says the grade separation through Park Mesa is only going to save 1 minute in travel time. It is possible that traffic signals could potentially add more to that time if the train is not given signal priority. We really need to stop building transit to accommodate cars which this grade separation on this really wide 3 lane street with parking lanes and turn lane seems to indicate. Bogota Columbia, can prioritize buses why can’t we prioritize Light Rail

  6. I prefer to keep the long view in mind. And that is… someday this line will be extended both north and south.

    To the north to Hollywood.

    To the south to San Pedro or Long Beach.

    Maybe other options exist too.

    I think it would be a sad mistake if Metro were to cut corners for a short term gain and not have that long view in mind. If they keep the short view, in the end, thousands of people onboard those trains might be subject to unnecessary delay along Crenshaw due to the traffic signals.

  7. after reading this article, see link, I think the the proposal makes a lot of sense.

    Its only one mile and a station for Leimart Park that needs to be added. Two miles of the line is already approved to be underground. How a station for Leimart park was overlooked doesn’t make sense to me. A station at Leimart Park could bring more businesses and tourist to the area. The MTA should also consider the economic development that the light rails will be to an area when planing the stations.

  8. The reason I say it will be faster is that if it is at-grade it will not have any signal priority because LA cares too much about cars and not enough about transit. (as that seems to be the norm now with our new lines like expo and EGL which is really a bummer). So 1 minute could turn into several. And an EL structure would be just fine. Just anything that allows it to move uninterrupted at a decent speed between stations!!! Also, the east side gold line was originally supposed to be all underground in the form of the red line anyway.

    The trains can go up to 65 mph when separated (green line anyone? red line?) and 35 when street running. That’s a pretty big difference. Grade separation is smarter for the long term and mitigates traffic and pedestrian increase impacts from growing population. Its safer and is the standard for cities world wide that have the population we have. Why can’t we hold these lines to the same standard that we hold in interstate highway system, which is defined by grade separation at all streets? We need to start thinking of transit the same way as that.

  9. So they’ll deal with construction impacts just like the Eastside, just like areas with cut and cover subway construction sites, etc. These businesses in South LA are no more special than any others that have endured construction.

  10. @Spokker
    Damien Goodman’s email advocates the undergrounding: his reason is that 5-6 years of construction along Crenshaw could kill black-owned businesses in one of the few economically vibrant areas of South LA.
    I don’t know if this is true or if it could be solved for a price less that the $250 mil you say the segment would cost; but it does bear some consideration. Why are these light rail projects built by separate corporations that are insulated from neighborhood concerns?

  11. “If more of this line is underground, the faster it will be.”

    Putting this segment underground would reduce total travel time by 1 minute for a cost of $250 million.

    If the Fall bond sale doesn’t happen, there might not be a Crenshaw Line anyway. Facing that reality, I wonder why anyone would advocate for a tunnel under a wide street just to accommodate more cars.

  12. While I normally support grade separating rail always, this is unnecessary and political. Leimart Park can easily support at grade rail or rail in a overpass. Taking money from other projects sets a bad precidence of regionalism when it is not necessary.I think the board should vote against this.

  13. If more of this line is underground, the faster it will be. And speed is what is necessary to attract riders especially when many riders would be using it to get to and from the airport. Otherwise people will just opt for their cars. Faster ride = more riders. This needs to be as important of a factor in our transit planning as hitting destinations is. Lets hit destination points AND with speed.