WeHo seeks public input on rail line expansion route

By Juliet Bennett Rylah

Contributing Writer

WEST HOLYWOOD — City officials are encouraging residents to offer feedback on a future rail line expansion that would connect the city to Los Angeles International Airport, Hollywood and destinations in between.

Currently, there is no light rail service in West Hollywood. The B (Red) Line runs from Union Station to Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue before heading to Universal City and North Hollywood. The D (Purple) Line travels from Union Station to Wilshire Boulevard and Western Avenue in Koreatown, though its expansion will ultimately run through Mid-City, Beverly Hills and Century City to Westwood.

West Hollywood’s shot at train service comes from the Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project, currently slated for completion sometime in 2021. The initial project provides rail service from the Metro E (Expo) Line Station at Crenshaw and Exposition boulevards to the Metro C (Green) Line Aviation/LAX Station at Aviation Boulevard and the Century (105) Freeway in El Segundo. An additional airport connector station will take riders directly to LAX’s future automated people mover, thus making it easier to use public transit to catch a flight.

The future Northern Extension of the Crenshaw/LAX project would provide even greater mobility, connecting the Crenshaw/LAX line to the Purple and Red lines, possibly looping in several West Hollywood stops as well.

After public input and analysis, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority settled on three possible routes for the Northern Extension.

The La Brea route would traverse up La Brea Avenue to the Hollywood/Highland station.

The Fairfax route would move along San Vicente Boulevard to Fairfax Avenue, then turn east on Santa Monica Boulevard to Hollywood/Highland.

The Fairfax-San Vicente alternative is the longest route, and the one the city of West Hollywood wants. It would follow the Fairfax route until Beverly Boulevard, then head west to serve the Cedar-Sinai Medical Center and the Beverly Center, then loop in the Pacific Design Center and West Hollywood’s nightlife district on the way to Hollywood/Highland.

An additional stop for all three routes could include the Hollywood Bowl. Estimated ridership is 90,000 passengers per day, who could get from Torrance to Hollywood in about an hour, regardless of traffic.

Over $2 billion in funding for the project would come from Measure M, passed by voters in 2016, for a projected completion date in 2047. However, the MTA is looking for ways to complete the project sooner, and West Hollywood says it and its partners, including the West Hollywood Advocates for Metro Rail (WHAM) and All on Board coalitions, have a proposal that could see the project complete in 2028.

West Hollywood and its residents’ interest in the project would likely depend heavily on which route the MTA choses. In 2019, the West Hollywood City Council requested in 2019 that the majority of its $160 million West Side Measure M Sub Regional Equity Program be allocated to the expansion, and conducted a survey in early 2020 that found 80% of the 546 residents surveyed were in favor of the project. Of those, 73% were in favor of the City offering funding.

The MTA is hosting a series of two-hour virtual scoping meetings to determine what to include in its forthcoming environmental impact report, which will consider benefits, cost, feasibility, community impact and possible mitigations, as well as which route it will propose the MTA’s Board of Directors.

The remaining Zoom sessions are at 6 p.m. May 6 and at 10 a.m. May 8.

More information and Zoom links are available at www.weho.org/rail. Residents who can’t make either meeting but who still want to offer comment can email the MTA at crenshawnorth@metro.net or call the project hotline at (213) 418-3093.

Juliet Bennett Rylah is a freelance reporter who covers Hollywood and West Hollywood. She can be reached at jbrylah@gmail.com.