Three routes recommended for further study on Crenshaw Northern Extension project

UPDATE: The Metro Board advanced the three routes and approved the environmental analysis contract.

The earlier post:

The Metro Board of Directors this month will consider advancing three possible routes for the Crenshaw Northern Extension project, as well as a $50.3-million contract for environmental analysis and advanced conceptual engineering of the project.

The three routes are shown on the map above and here’s the Metro staff report. Five potential routes were studied in the project’s Feasibility/Alternatives Study that was released in 2018. After further analysis and public review, the three routes recommended for further study were identified as the ones that had the most public support, highest potential ridership and were the most practical and cost effective.

A potential extension from Hollywood/Highland Station to the Hollywood Bowl will also be studied. The Bowl is about a one mile walk from the current Red Line station. Getting rail transit to the Bowl has long been talked about but has proven difficult due to the high cost of building transit to a destination that certainly gets big crowds — but only so many nights of the year.

For those new to this project, the 8.5-mile Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project is currently being constructed between the C Line (Green) and the E Line (Expo). The Crenshaw Northern Extension would continue the Crenshaw/LAX Line to the north to a transfer point with the Purple Line subway and then continue to the Red Line subway in Hollywood. Here’s the project homepage on metro.net.

In addition to forging faster transit connections between communities south and north of the 10, the project could also serve busy job and commerce centers north of the 10 freeway, including the Wilshire Corridor, West Hollywood and Hollywood. Early ridership estimates for all the routes were very promising, showing about 90,000 boardings being taken on the line on weekdays.

The Measure M spending plan provides about $2.2 billion for the project, although early cost estimates show that the expected cost could be significantly more due to expected tunneling and bridges that could be needed. Under Measure M, the project is scheduled to be built in the 2040s. But Metro — in partnership with the city of West Hollywood and the city of Los Angeles — is advancing planning work on two key conditions: 1) that funding can be found to accelerate the project, and; 2) that accelerating the project would not impact the timelines of other Measure M projects, as per Metro’s project acceleration policy.

It’s worth noting that although the analysis and engineering contract being considered by the Metro Board is for $50.3 million, only $2.2 million of that would be spent in fiscal year 2021 in order to contain costs during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. If approved, the contract will be awarded once the Board approves a budget for Metro for the current fiscal year (that’s scheduled to happen in September). As some readers know, Metro pushed back its budget approval from May to September in order to reflect costs related to the ongoing pandemic.

The Metro Board’s Planning Committee is scheduled to discuss the item as part of their meeting at 3 p.m., Wednesday, August 19. You can listen online here.

27 replies

  1. Alternative #3 looks like the best to serve the Hollywood Bowl. The Bowl’s activities are great, and will once again thrive after the pandemic, so why not help everyone get there easily using Metro, and help reduce the automotive traffic at the same time.

    • Not gonna happen. West Hollywood is behind a lot of this extension getting any attention and that route just barely hits the city. Politics is definitely going to determine the route here . So Dream on. Option 3 only will work if metro approves a Santa Monica Line which isn’t gonna happen in our lifetimes. None of these options will be built in our lifetimes honestly.

    • Routes 1 through 3 are independent of a Bowl extension so I’m not sure what you are going for here.

    • I would definitely go with Option #1 because it is most direct and the least expensive option, especially since it would likely have to be a tunnel the whole way. Options 1 & 2 wander too much. However, if West Hollywood must be served by a rail line, Option #1 could be built as a totally separate train line, beginning at the Crenshaw Line at San Vicente and ending at Hollywood/Highland with the Crenshaw Line following La Brea for the most part to Hollywood/Highland sticking with the most direct route. The extension to the Hollywood Bowl is part of an idea I have, which is to continue past a stop at the Hollywood Bowl and then for the Crenshaw Line to follow Barham Blvd into Burbank and then follow Olive Ave to San Fernando Rd in Downtown Burbank.

  2. Still really not keen on that hybrid alignment, but I’m glad to see the Hollywood Bowl option is getting looked at, and even more so a serious look a building in phases. Getting this line up to Wilshire in the near future would be a big victory by itself.

  3. The Bowl segment could be run as a 2 train short-line. 2 trains of 3 cars each could go up to the Bowl during events from the A Line station. When a train comes from the south the short-line train then leaves to make room and the northbound train goes to the bowl. When events are not underway (or soon to be), 3 options might be taken: 1) no trains go to the bowl station, 2) a limited number go to the bowl, or 3) each train goes to the bowl. 2 or 3 are likely be the right answer, because there are bus lines 237 and 222 in the area. There should be pedestrian improvements for access to the Ford Theater (a good crosswalk at the bridge and better path lighting.) The short-line plan should also be done for events at the Ford.

    Stations for alignment 2 should include (north of D line): Fairfax & 3rd, Fairfax & Santa Monica, Santa Monica & La Brea.
    Alignment 1 should have the same plus 2 more: Beverly west of La Cienega, and Santa Monica & San Vicente

    There should be a stop at the 10 north of the freeway

  4. I’d love nothing better than to wave a magic wand and solve the Hollywood Bowl traffic problem. But I don’t see how light rail could do that. People currently have convenient shuttles from all directions and don’t use them, preferring to Uber. An aerial tram between Hollywood Highland’s upper deck and the Bowl might be an interesting thing to add to the mix… at least it could be an attraction of it’s own on non-bowl evenings. If nothing else, it would be cheap and out-of-the-box.

  5. Fairfax seems to be the compromise route that makes most sense. The “c” turn on the revised San Vicente option tries to make a north-south transit line also function as East-west. The LaCienega alignment, while still creating a weird loop, is better than swinging far west to San Vicente/SMB.

    Hollywood Bowl will likely be too costly, but the tail tracks at Hollywood/Highland might get half the way there. Combine that with a bare-bones part time station and it would be interesting to see the cost analysis.

    Bottom line – Metro needs to look at the bigger picture and select the LAX alternative for the Sepulveda corridor at the same time. For instance, if the decision is to extend the Purple Line to LAX, that potentially changes the use of Crenshaw/LAX line.

  6. Have to go with option #3, especially now offered as underground rather than elevated.
    This line (Crenshaw) from Hollywood all the way to either Norwalk or Redondo Beach is so long and it wanders too much, thus, from Expo Line line north to the Red Line has to be as straight as route as possible, especially if its going to be the connector between Red, Purple, Expo etc.
    The Hollywood Bowl is a great option for a couple reasons. During the week when there are no events there, the parking lots can be a very large park and ride. Also, makes a good location for a turn back location being the north end of the line . With the turn back a Hollywood Bowl, trains will pass through the Hollywood/Highland station more frequently, similar to what is happening right now with the Union Station Turn Back project.

    Do not have this line wander all over West Hollywood trying to capture everything. The area and traffic won’t allow for at grade and when you are digging tunnels, the shortest straightest route is the best.
    West Hollywood can and should be served with a line coming out of Hollywood/Highland, turning west on Santa Monica Blvd over to La Cienega and turning south to connect at the Purple LIne. (Can’t we reuse some of the studies that were done for this route as part of the initial Purple Line work?)
    Then ideally, the line would continue down La Cienega to a station at Pico, then down to Venice Blvd, coming to grade level and continue to Venice Beach with connections to the Expo Line at Culver City and the someday SFV-405-LAX line at Sepulveda/Venice. Even a connection at Venice/Lincoln to the Rapid Bus Line (or hopefully some kind of rail line). An extension like offer so many connections and ultimately would give Hollywood & West Hollywood areas a vastly greater variety of distinations.
    Think big , but be patient.

  7. gotta go with alternative 1 …. most inclusive of density which is least served by existing mass transit options and closing “the last mile” gap as much as possible

  8. Option 3 does look best, and will best serve low income residents but before they spend another 2 million bucks and commit to 50 million they should update ridership and tax revenue numbers. Many more folks will be working from home permanently. Ridership numbers were already decreasing and I question the need to spend billions we don’t have on a system folks may not use without getting proper info. I would rather get some unemployment help for folks in need.

  9. So excited that this might happen before the 40s! The hybrid line definitely services the most places that I want to go (and places where parking & traffic are the worst!). Taking the train to the Hollywood Bowl is a total game-changer. That would be incredible!!

    • Hey Derek and everyone else;

      Just want to emphasize that perhaps the biggest challenge with the Hollywood Bowl segment will be finding the funding (as is the case with most large transit projects). The project just to Hollywood/Highland will already likely need to secure more funds and an extra mile of track (which may have to be underground) would add to that. Obviously the bowl is an epic place, but it’s in a similar situation to Dodger Stadium, the Rose Bowl, the Greek, etc. — just enough out of the way that building transit to it is challenging. That said, I’m glad to see it studied and am hopeful there will be more money for urban transit in the future.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

    • Huh? I know #3 is short sighted as it completely bypasses just about 2-3 major destinations people would actually go to outside of Rush hours, but how is #1 a straightforward option when it’s literally any but a straight forward line. Not many people are gonna be looking forward to a C-shaped line and add an extra 10-15 min to their Hollywood commute just so there is a connection to a hospital (though welcomed) and a bunch of bars.

  10. Read the entire presentation and I agree that La Brea is the best option for this. Most economical and best route. Agree with the above comments about West Hollywood. At the meeting I went to they had a table outside handing out leaflets pushing their route. They felt intimidating inside as well. I like the idea of going down La Brea until Wilshire for now especially because we don’t know when ridership will come back. Not comfortable with spending millions right now when ridership was gong down even before the virus.

  11. I like the Fairfax option. Not only would it serve very busy hubs like the Farmers’ Market, the Grove, Museum Row, Park La Brea, Melrose, and the heart of West Hollywood, but it would also leave an opening for a future route.

    Several densely-built and walkable districts originally built around Pacific Electric-era transit are still unserved by Metro Rail even after the buildout of Measure M projects, including Echo Park, Silver Lake, the Sunset Strip, downtown Culver City, Culver-West, and Venice. If a line were built from Venice to Union Station along Venice Blvd, La Cienega, San Vicente, Holloway, Santa Monica Blvd, Sunset, under Dodger Stadium, this would dovetail very nicely with the Fairfax Alternative and other Measure M projects like the Lincoln Blvd corridor.

    Obviously this is pie-in-the-sky thinking, but since there’s no sunset date on the funding stream from Measures R/M it might be considered in considering alternatives for these earlier projects.

  12. Option 3 down La Brea looks like best option and will best serve low income riders who need this lifeline. Those are the riders that will actually be using the rail system, the ‘tourist’ or ‘shopping’ ridership is a pipe dream. Overall ridership has been declining as stated in this Curbed article. I wouldn’t rely on projections made by Metro prior to pandemic
    https://la.curbed.com/2019/12/12/21011353/los-angeles-metro-ridership-stats-2019

    • How is it a pipe dream? You’d really think the Expo’s Line success has nothing to do with the fact that it connects to one of LA’s biggest tourist traps that could be visited almost anytime of the year? Maybe saying that about the Expo Line in 1980s LA when Santa Monica and Sawtelle had an actual gang problem would make sense. Also, I don’t see how falling ridership plays a role in any of these alternatives. The low ridership has to do with a variety of factors, some within Metro’s control (Punctuality, Cleanliness, Lack of Express Trains), some that are out of Metro’s control (COVID-19, Affordable cars, Uber/Lyft, etc)

      The one thing tourism does bring is jobs, which is certain to return.

  13. Glad to see so many people commenting. People in my neighborhood were never notified when the original public forums happened so I wasn’t surprised there are so few comments in the public section of this report.
    Option #3 down La Brea is the only viable option here. It will be the most helpful and also help to see business on La Brea grow to where it should be. Also agree with comments above regarding the awful #1 option WeHo is trying to force on people.

  14. They should do all three. We need as much rail as possible. There is nothing in the city that goes north and south. Why not a line on La Cienega?

  15. Fairfax line makes the most sense. Its quick, it hits tons of jobs andthere are tons of apartments littered along it. Its in the middle of both La Brea and La Cienega. And it can serve FairFax high. Yes La Brea is the fastest route but a block east from San Vicente up to Santa monica are single story homes. La Brea also doesn’t have high density job centers, like the grove and farmers market. Hancock Park is most likely never going allow for more density. And La Cienega makes no sense. west Hollywood needs its own line.

  16. I would definitely pick the La Brea Ave segment. I would also suggest an extension further north of Hollywood Bowl to the Burbank Airport…