Where Should WeHo’s Rail Line Go?

It’s early in the process, but a route preference for the Crenshaw Northern Extension is solidifying

An extension of the Crenshaw Line to West Hollywood is moving out of the pipe-dream phase and into the maybe-an-eventual-reality phase. At its May meeting, Metro’s board approved a $500,000 budget to begin environmental studies on the Crenshaw Northern Extension rail project. The big question that remains is what route the Crenshaw extension will take, especially considering there are so many points of interest within WeHo’s 1.9 square miles.

The general consensus is that the Crenshaw Line will eventually link up with the Red Line’s Hollywood/Highland station. Hence, the cheapest, quickest route for the extension would be a straight shot up La Brea Avenue, which is already seeing denser development. But a train underneath La Brea would skirt much of WeHo and miss important destinations like Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, the Grove, the Beverly Center, the Pacific Design Center, Boystown, and the Sunset Strip. A costlier, more circuitous route, running under San Vicente, Santa Monica, or Sunset boulevards, could reach at least some of these locations.

West Hollywood officials are invested in the idea of a rail line running through their city. In 2016, 86 percent of residents voted for Measure M, which increased sales tax to pay for more transit projects. Last month, the city approved a resolution to help expedite the Crenshaw extension, possibly by helping shoulder some of the cost, either through new taxes on property or cannabis.

While WeHo councilmembers are waiting for the environmental studies to provide more clarity on cost and ridership numbers, their station preferences are coming into focus.

“The stations that are imperative are the ones that serve the City of West Hollywood and deliver on the investment that Metro is making,” West Hollywood councilwoman Lindsey P. Horvath says. “The Northern Extension of the Crenshaw Line is projected to have the highest light rail ridership anywhere in the country, and to significantly increase ridership on every existing line in Metro’s transportation network. The preferred alignment is projected to serve 249,000 jobs, including 11,600 at Cedars-Sinai, 14,200 retail jobs, and 58,400 service jobs.”

According to Horvath, community outreach conducted by the city and Metro has determined that Santa Monica/Fairfax, Santa Monica/La Cienega, and Santa Monica/San Vicente are currently the most popular alignments for the rail line. Metro research has indicated that of those three options, the San Vicente alignment would serve the most riders.

“Santa Monica/San Vicente will serve more people, more jobs, and more regional destinations,” Horvath explains. “All that said, my preference is the alignment that best serves the most West Hollywood residents, workers, and visitors. For right now, we need to proceed with the environmental studies so we can make more informed decisions about where this alignment will go.”

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