Rail to West Hollywood inching closer to reality

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A train that could run through West Hollywood isn’t slated to open until 2047, but local officials and residents who live along the route are eager to speed up the project.

On Thursday, Metro’s Board of Directors took a key first step in making that happen, agreeing to spend $400,000 on an environmental review of the light rail project, an extension of Metro’s under-construction Crenshaw/LAX Line.

Finishing that study is crucial to ensuring the project is “shovel ready” by 2020, as Metro CEO Phil Washington has promised it will be.

“This will tie the region together like never before,” a representative for state Sen. Ben Allen told the board.

Members of the West Hollywood City Council, who earlier this year asked city staffers to figure out ways to pay for the rail line’s early construction, were similarly enthusiastic.

Councilmember John Heilman said he was “thrilled” to see the project moving forward.

Initiated as part of a package of projects included in Metro’s Measure M sales tax initiative, the northern portion of the Crenshaw/LAX Line isn’t scheduled to break ground for nearly a quarter-century (the southern part of the line was scheduled to open next year, but may be delayed).

Finding money to speed up the project won’t be easy.

Finishing environmental analysis of the project would ensure construction can begin on the project if and when more money becomes available. Metro has already received multiple public-private partnership proposals for other planned transit lines, and West Hollywood Mayor John Duran has even proposed new taxes on marijuana as a possible funding source.

It’s official! @metrolosangeles UNANIMOUSLY adopted next steps for Crenshaw Northern Extension incl outreach & EIR $. A connection to @WeHoCity keeps moving forward! Thanks to all our partners in this effort @AOBCoalition@WHAMRAIL@BizFed@HollywoodArea & many others here today

— Lindsey P Horvath (@LindseyPHorvath) September 27, 2018

West Hollywood officials might be less enthusiastic about paying for the project if the rail line bypasses the city.

Right now, Metro is considering five routes for the project. All would connect the Crenshaw/LAX Line to the Purple and Red lines, though one alternative would bring the train through Koreatown, ending at the Wilshire/Vermont Red Line Station.

Proposed routes for the Crenshaw/LAX Line northern extension.

All other routes would end at the Hollywood/Highland station, passing through some part of West Hollywood along the way—though alignments along San Vicente and La Cienega boulevards would service far more of the city than those along Fairfax and La Brea avenues.

Metro will determine more about the feasibility and cost of each of these options during the environmental review process.

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