K Line
LACMTA Circle K Line.svg
Crenshaw line aerial.jpg
K Line, running down the middle of Crenshaw Boulevard, eventually disappearing underground, with SoFi Stadium in the background in August 2022
Overview
Other name(s)Crenshaw/LAX Line
StatusIn testing
OwnerLos Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority
Line number807
Stations9
Websitekline.metro.net
Service
TypeLight rail
SystemLos Angeles Metro Rail
Depot(s)Division 16 (Westchester)
Division 22 (Hawthorne)
History
Planned openingOctober 7, 2022; 2 days' time (2022-10-07)
Technical
Line length8.5 mi (13.7 km)[1]
Number of tracks2
CharacterAt-grade in exclusive right-of-way, with underground and aerial sections
Track gauge4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
ElectrificationOverhead line750 V DC
Operating speed55 mph (89 km/h) (max)
Route map

Expo/Crenshaw
Parking E Line
Martin Luther King Jr.
(2022)
Leimert Park
(2022)
Hyde Park
(2022)
Fairview Heights
Parking (2022)
Downtown Inglewood
(2022)
Westchester/Veterans
(2022)
LAX/Metro Transit Center
LAX Automated People Mover (2024)
Aviation/Century
(2023)
C Line 
Detailed diagram
showing all crossings
E Line  Parking Expo/Crenshaw
Martin Luther King Jr.
Leimert Park
Crenshaw Blvd
Hyde Park
Crenshaw Blvd
Hyde Park Tunnel
Brynhurst Avenue
West Boulevard
Parking Fairview Heights
High Street
Centinela Avenue
Downtown Inglewood
La Brea Avenue
Ivy Avenue
Eucalyptus Avenue
Cedar Avenue
Oak Street
Hyde Park Boulevard
I-405 (1961).svg
I-405
San Diego Freeway
La Cienega Avenue
Hindry Avenue
Westchester/Veterans
Manchester Avenue
Arbor Vitae Street
Division 16 yard
(2024) LAX Automated People Mover LAX/Metro Transit Center
Aviation/Century
Century Boulevard
LAX Runway North trench
LAX Runway Tunnel
LAX Runway South trench
111th Street
Imperial Highway
I-105 (1961).svg
I-105
Century Freeway
C Line C Line
Handicapped/disabled access all stations accessible

The K Line (formerly the Crenshaw/LAX Line) is a future light rail line that will be part of the Los Angeles Metro Rail system in Los Angeles County, California. This line was built as part of the Crenshaw/LAX Line project that, when fully complete in late 2024, will run 8.5 miles (13.7 km), serving nine stations in the Crenshaw, Leimert Park and Westchester neighborhoods of Los Angeles, the City of Inglewood and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), before reaching a junction with C Line. The initial operating segment (IOS), scheduled to open on October 7, 2022 connects the existing E Line to seven additional stations, stopping 2 miles short of LAX. When the line first opens, Metro will provide a bus shuttle from the line's IOS terminus at Westchester/Veterans to the C Line at Aviation/LAX. The shuttle will terminate when K Line opens that train segment, serving those stations, in 2023.[2]

The project is being built by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) and has been funded by Measure R.[3] The final EIR was certified in 2011,[4] the FTA gave its approval to build the line in 2012,[5] and heavy construction began in June 2014. Revenue service was initially projected to begin by mid-2020,[6] but the project has repeatedly fallen behind schedule. The northern portion is scheduled to open on October 7, 2022, with the southern portion connecting to the C Line opening in fall 2023, and the station for transfers to the new LAX Automated People Mover opening in late 2024.[7]

Service Description

Map of the K Line (solid pink) shown in the project study area (highlighted) shown with the potential Northern Extension as outlined in 2008.
Map of the K Line (solid pink) shown in the project study area (highlighted) shown with the potential Northern Extension as outlined in 2008.

Route

The Metro K Line is an 8.5-mile light rail (LRT) route, starting at the Expo/Crenshaw station on the E Line and connecting at a wye to the existing C Line just to the west of Aviation/LAX station. The project as initially approved included eight stations; construction on an infill station, LAX/Metro Transit Center, which will provide a transfer to a new people mover system to LAX, began later.[8]

The northern half of the route follows Crenshaw Boulevard from Exposition Boulevard south to 67th Street. The southern half of the route utilizes the Harbor Subdivision right-of-way (ROW) from Crenshaw Boulevard to the C Line just west of Aviation/Imperial station.

Starting from the northern end of the alignment at Exposition Blvd, the train travels underground in a one-mile (1.6 km) deep bore tunnel. The line then transitions into an at-grade segment, in the median of Crenshaw Blvd, between 46th and 59th Streets. From 59th and 67th Streets, the line returns underground into a shallow cut and cover tunnel for a half-mile (0.8 km). The line emerges from the tunnel as it enters the Harbor Subdivision, which runs parallel to Florence Boulevard and Aviation Boulevard. The line mostly operates at-grade in this exclusive right-of-way, briefly transitioning onto elevated viaducts to cross over major thoroughfares including La Brea Avenue, Interstate 405, Manchester Boulevard, Century Boulevard and Imperial Highway. The line also briefly enters an open trench as it passes close to the LAX runways. [9]

The northern terminus of the line is an underground subway station and does not provide a track connection to the at-grade E Line. Provisions are in place to allow the subway to extend north. The southern terminus of the line is an elevated wye that connects to the C Line.

Hours and frequency

K Line service hours will be approximately from 4:30 a.m. until 12:00 a.m. daily. Trains will operate every ten minutes during peak hours Monday through Friday, every 15 minutes during the daytime on weekdays and all day on the weekends. Night service will be every 20 minutes.[10]

Station listing

The project includes nine new stations:[11] Seven of them are opening on October 7, 2022.[12]

Station Opening[7] City (Neighborhood) Major connections and notes
Expo/Crenshaw October 7, 2022[13] Los Angeles (Jefferson Park)  E Line
Park and ride: 450 spaces (closed Sunday)
Martin Luther King Jr. Los Angeles (Baldwin Hills/Leimert Park)
Leimert Park Los Angeles (Leimert Park)
Hyde Park Los Angeles (Hyde Park)
Fairview Heights  C Line via shuttle bus
Park and ride: 200 spaces
Downtown Inglewood Inglewood SoFi Stadium via shuttle bus
Inglewood Transit Connector Planned connection to Inglewood Transit Connector (2027)
Westchester/Veterans Los Angeles (Westchester)  C Line via shuttle bus
LAX/Metro Transit Center Late 2024 LAX Automated People Mover LAX Automated People Mover
Aviation/Century Fall 2023

Service pattern

Three proposed operating plans for the Crenshaw/LAX Line
Three proposed operating plans for the Crenshaw/LAX Line

When the initial segment of the K Line opens, it will operate along the northern portion of the new infrastructure, with Expo/Crenshaw the only station with a transfer connection to the existing Metro Rail system.

Varying service patterns have been proposed for integrating the completed Crenshaw/LAX Line into the rest of the system over the course of its planning and construction, all of which have involved sharing trackage and infrastructure facilities with the existing C Line. Although some early proposals would've sent trains through all three directions of the wye that will connect the existing C Line with the new segment, this was rejected by Metro because it would cause too much wear and tear on the track switch mechanisms.[14][15]

The debate over service patterns proved somewhat contentious, as the final pattern must balance the needs of riders, operational needs, and the political constituencies of Metro's board members.[16] In 2018, with the line then scheduled to open within the year, the Metro Board of Directors overrode a recommendation by operations staff that would've had a single line operating between Expo/Crenshaw and Norwalk station. Passengers from the Redondo Beach area would served by a shuttle to the LAX area, where they would need to transfer to another train to continue to east. Instead, board members approved a one-year pilot of a configuration that would continue to connect Redondo Beach with Willowbrook/Rosa Parks station (transfer point to the A Line).[17][18] The approved plan would incur higher operating expenses but board members argued it would retain better transfer opportunities for South Bay residents.[19]

Ongoing construction delays led to a reassessment of that plan in 2022. Metro recommended public outreach aimed at reformulating the operating plan before the connection to the C Line opens in 2023.[7]

History

K Line tracks at the corner of Centinela and Florence near Centinela Park and the Downtown Inglewood station.
K Line tracks at the corner of Centinela and Florence near Centinela Park and the Downtown Inglewood station.

Los Angeles Railway Line 5 yellow streetcars served Crenshaw and Florence Boulevards until 1955 when the service was replaced with buses.[20]

Extending the Green Line to LAX was an early goal of Los Angeles transit planners. Studies in 1984 and 1988 outlined a route from the junction near Aviation/Century and running to the northeast, similar to later plans for the second section of the Sepulveda Pass Transit Corridor.[21]

The line was planned following the Los Angeles riots of 1992 as a way to better serve transit-dependent residents in the corridor while at the same time providing stimulus for positive economic growth in the South Los Angeles region.[20] It was championed by State Senator Diane Watson and County Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke, both representing portions of the corridor.

In 1993 and 1994, a Major Investment Study (MIS) was initiated.[1] At that time, the project was referred to as the Crenshaw–Prairie Corridor. A route refinement study followed in 1999–2000 to improve the shelf life and to narrow down the number of alternatives. An architectural design and planning visioning was performed by the University of Southern California school of Architecture in 1996. A new Major Investment Study (MIS) was completed in 2003. From 2007 through 2009, Metro conducted a draft environmental review of the line, taking public input and analyzing the environmental impacts and benefits of various alternatives. In December 2009, the Metro Board approved the Draft Environmental Impact Report[22] and chose a "Locally Preferred Alternative".[23]

This alternative, which included the preferred mode and route, became the subject of a final environmental study, resulting in a Final Environmental Impact Report. This final study was completed in May 2011.[24] Local community leaders, neighborhood councils, Los Angeles County Supervisors Yvonne Burke and Mark Ridley-Thomas, as well as U.S. Representative Diane Watson continued to express enthusiastic support for the proposed light rail line. In a letter to Metro dated November 5, 2007, Watson wrote:

Having advocated strenuously for a light rail 'spur line' to carry passengers from the Wilshire Corridor down the Crenshaw Corridor and, ultimately, to LAX for 25 years now, I am delighted to offer continued encouragement, advocacy and feedback for a Metro study (to)…avoid aggravating (the) Leimert Park traffic bottleneck, Coliseum to Vernon;…Wilshire/La Brea station connection to Westside Corridor line, avoiding hydrogen sulfide;…fully consider (the) below-grade option. (Comment ID 116-125 in the cited link)[25]

The route was designated as the K Line in November 2019.[26] In April 2020, Metro announced that the completion date for the project would be pushed to no earlier than May 2021 due to construction issues. The support structures for bridges and tunnels had concrete plinths that were incorrectly installed, requiring extensive repairs to sections where tracks had already been installed.[6]

Environmental review process

The Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) describes several alternatives, as well as "Design Options" (optional features with additional cost).[22] Many other alignments were considered previously, but eliminated due to lack of feasibility or benefit.

The following table summarizes key characteristics of each alternative:

Name Cost
(millions)*
Description
Project Alternatives
No-Build $0 Nothing is built. (This is required for comparison to other alternatives.)
TSM $25 "Transportation Systems Management": expanded bus service.
BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) $554 High capacity buses, dedicated bus lanes, 12 bus stations along route between Imperial/Aviation and Wilshire/Western.
LRT (Light-Rail Transit) $1,306 Light-rail trains, double-track route, 7-8 stations along route between Imperial/Aviation and Exposition/Crenshaw.
Design Options (LRT only)
Design Option 1 $11 Adds aerial grade separation at Century/Aviation, station also aerial.
Design Option 2 $16 Adds aerial grade separation at Manchester/Aviation.
Design Option 3 $13 Adds cut-and-cover (below-grade) grade separation at ROW/Centinela.
Design Option 4 $29 Replaces aerial grade-separation between 60th Street and Victoria Avenue with cut-and-cover (below-grade).
Design Option 5 $155 Adds a below-grade station at Leimert Park (Vernon Avenue).
Design Option 6 $236 Adds below-grade grade separation between Exposition and 39th Street.

* in 2008 dollars.

Grade separations

The route had several segments under consideration for grade-separations. The LRT Baseline (DEIR) included a minimal set of grade separations: the design options specified additional grade separations. The locally preferred alternative (LPA) adopted by the Metro Board included the LRT Baseline plus some additional grade separations (e.g. Design Options 1, 2 and 4). Other grade separations were also still under consideration. All grade separations are subject to the Metro Grade Crossing Policy.[27]

The following table describes the Crenshaw Corridor's route, divided into segments with potential grade-separations:

Segment start Segment end Length
(miles)
Location LRT
baseline[22]
Locally preferred
alternative[23]
Additional
proposed
Stations in segment
Crenshaw/Expo
(northern terminus)
Crenshaw/39th
(north of King)
0.5 street median at-grade at-grade below-grade (DO6) Expo/Crenshaw
Crenshaw/39th
(north of King)
Crenshaw/48th
(south of Vernon)
1.1 street median below-grade below-grade Martin Luther King, Leimert Park
Crenshaw/48th
(south of Vernon)
Crenshaw/60th
(south of Slauson)
1.0 street median at-grade at-grade below-grade (PMH) Hyde Park
Crenshaw/60th
(south of Slauson)
ROW/Victoria
(west of Crenshaw)
0.6 street median aerial below-grade (DO4)
ROW/Victoria
(west of Crenshaw)
Florence east of Centinela 0.9 ROW at-grade at-grade Fairview Heights
Florence east of Centinela Florence/Locust
(betw. Centinela and La Brea)
0.4 ROW
crossing Centinela
at-grade at-grade below-grade (DO3)
Florence/Locust
(betw. Centinela and La Brea)
Florence/Eucalyptus
(west of La Brea)
0.6 ROW
crossing La Brea
aerial aerial Downtown Inglewood
Florence/Eucalyptus
(west of La Brea)
Florence/Hyde Park
(east of 405)
0.6 ROW at-grade at-grade
Florence/Hyde Park
(east of 405)
Florence west of La Cienega 0.3 ROW crossing 405
and La Cienega
aerial aerial
Florence west of La Cienega Florence/Hindry
(north of Manchester)
0.3 ROW at-grade at-grade
Florence/Hindry
(north of Manchester)
Aviation south of Manchester 0.2 ROW
crossing Manchester
at-grade aerial (DO2) Westchester/Veterans
Aviation south of Manchester Aviation north of Century 0.7 ROW at-grade at-grade
Aviation north of Century Aviation south of Century 0.4 ROW
crossing Century
at-grade aerial (DO1) Aviation/Century
Aviation south of Century Aviation north of Imperial 0.7 ROW below-grade below-grade
Aviation north of Imperial Aviation/Imperial
(southern terminus)
0.2 ROW
crossing Imperial
aerial aerial

Notes:

Maintenance facility

Metro staff studied and ranked 16 potential sites for the required maintenance facility.[28] Through several rounds of screening, all but five were eliminated.

In March 2011, a Supplemental DEIS/R was released to the public, specifically related to the maintenance facility. This study was completed due to changes to capacity requirements of the Crenshaw Line. Three of the screened sites were carried forward into this study, and one new site was added.[29] The four site options studied in the Supplemental DEIS/R (from north to south) are:

Site # Name Location Size (acres) Operation
14 Arbor Vitae/Bellanca Westchester 17.6 standalone
15 Manchester/Aviation Inglewood 20.5 standalone
17 Marine/Redondo Beach Redondo Beach 14.2 satellite to Division 22
D22N Division 22 Expansion Hawthorne 3.5 satellite to Division 22

Following the public comment period in April 2011, staff recommended adoption of the Arbor Vitae/Bellanca site, since it had no public objections and all environmental impacts could be mitigated.[24]

Park Mesa Tunnel

In 2010, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas requested study of a tunnel through Park Mesa Heights on Crenshaw Boulevard between 48th and 59th Streets. Metro staff studied the option and recommended against it. Staff concluded the option offers minimal benefit but high cost. The additional cost for the tunnel would be $219 million, or $167 million with Slauson station removed. Instead that section of the line will be at-grade level.[30][31]

Leimert Park and Hindry stations

In May 2011, Supervisor Ridley-Thomas asked the Metro Board to vote on a motion requiring construction of both the tunnel and the subway station in Leimert Park Plaza (Crenshaw/Vernon). The Board voted to include an underground station at Leimert Park and approved the station only under the condition that the entire project can be completed within its original budget.[32]

In May 2013, the Metro Board voted 10–1 to officially include an underground station at Leimert Park (Crenshaw/Vernon, at Crenshaw Blvd and 43rd Place), and another at-grade station at Hindry Ave (Florence/Hindry), in the Crenshaw/LAX Line project.[33]

LAX/Metro Transit Center

In 2014, Metro approved the planning and scoping of an infill station at 96th and Aviation, which would connect to the proposed LAX Train automated people mover system to the airport terminals.[34][35] The station would be less than half a mile north of the under construction Aviation/Century station, and would serve as Metro Rail's main gateway to the airport itself, while the Aviation/Century station would serve destinations along the busy Century Boulevard corridor. The proposed station would be served by Green Line trains as well as trains along the new Crenshaw/LAX Line.[36]

Route Selection: Alternative 6

K Line tracks, under construction, as seen from a plane landing at LAX in 2018
K Line tracks, under construction, as seen from a plane landing at LAX in 2018

In December 2009, the Metro Board selected a Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA), and in 2010 Metro conducted the Final Environmental Study for this alternative. This alternative included the LRT Baseline alignment, plus Design Options 1, 2 and 4. At this time, Metro also authorized further study of the remaining design options.

In selecting this alternative, Metro staff eliminated the BRT (bus rapid transit) alternative, stating that it was too slow to provide much benefit, and that it generally lacked public support.

Metro staff also concluded that the northernmost portion of the Crenshaw Corridor between Exposition and Wilshire was too expensive to include in the project if implemented as light-rail. Thus, study and implementation of that segment was deferred, to be considered separately in the future as a northern extension ("Phase 2") of the Crenshaw Line (see section below).

Metro estimated the light-rail line will initially have a daily ridership between 13,000 and 16,000, would cost $1.3 billion - $1.8 billion (in 2008 dollars), would take five years to complete construction, and would generate 7,800 construction jobs over this period.[22]

Measure R assumes a project cost of $1.470 billion (2008). Its sales tax revenues will provide up to $1.207 billion (82% of the budgeted cost). The remaining $263 million is expected to come from local funding. The Crenshaw Corridor project did not seek state or federal funding.[37] The LPA (including Design Options 1, 2 and 4) was estimated to cost $1.306 billion, which was within budget. If Metro were to include the remaining three design options, the cost would rise to $1.766 billion, exceeding the Measure R project cost by nearly $300 million, requiring cost deferments.

In October 2010, the Federal government of the United States awarded the Crenshaw Corridor a $546 million loan, to be paid back by Measure R tax revenue. The loan allowed pre-construction for the project to begin in summer 2012. The final Crenshaw/LAX Transit Corridor budget was $1.763 billion,[33] as it included most of the design options. At that time, project completion was expected in 2019.[1] Ultimately, the LPA, with the addition of Design Option 6 and the underground Leimert Park station, is budgeted at $1.766 billion.[33]

Northern extension to Hollywood

Main article: Crenshaw Northern Extension Rail Project

The original plans for the Crenshaw Corridor project connected Wilshire Blvd to LAX. However, during environmental review, Metro determined that if LRT were selected as the preferred mode, the cost for the entire route would exceed the project budget. In December 2009, the Metro Board selected LRT as the preferred mode; as a result, the part of the corridor north of Exposition Boulevard was deferred until funds become available. This segment can be considered a "Phase 2" extension of the original line. Any Phase 2 extension would be expected to connect to the portion of the D Line currently under construction as part of the Purple Line Extension project, as well as to the B Line.

In May 2009, Metro released a report on the feasibility of an extension north to Wilshire Boulevard.[38] It first screened two routes—one to Wilshire/La Brea, and another to Wilshire/Crenshaw. Through this screening, staff concluded that Wilshire/La Brea station would be more cost-effective and more compatible with land uses and plans along its route. Specifically, the report cited the following advantages of the La Brea route over the Crenshaw route:

  • Greater residential and job density,
  • Supportive land-uses for a high capacity subway,
  • Stronger regional potential to link this corridor northward towards Hollywood in the future,
  • Strong community support in the Hancock Park area and
  • Fewer geotechnical soil impacts compared to the Hydrogen sulfide soil along Crenshaw Blvd north of Pico Boulevard.

In October 2010, the Metro Board voted to eliminate the Wilshire/Crenshaw station from the Purple Line Subway Extension project, for similar reasons.[39]

The 3.5-mile Wilshire/La Brea route heads north on Crenshaw to Venice, west on Venice to San Vicente, continuing northwest on San Vicente to La Brea, and then north on La Brea to Wilshire. It has three possible stations: Crenshaw/Adams (optional), Pico/San Vicente, and Wilshire/La Brea.

The feasibility report also allowed for two possible branches/extensions along La Brea Ave, Fairfax Ave, La Cienega Blvd or San Vicente Blvd heading north of Wilshire into West Hollywood and/or Hollywood.

In November 2010, Metro staff produced an initial review of the feasibility of studying a new transit corridor to connect the Crenshaw Corridor to West Hollywood and/or Hollywood.[40]

In May 2014, the West Hollywood City Council considered a proposal by Councilmembers John Heilman and Jeffrey Prang to engage a lobbyist to promote the need for Metro rail services in West Hollywood. The Heilman/Prang proposal notes that “former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa assured West Hollywood representatives that West Hollywood would be ‘next in line’.”[41] In 2015, the West Hollywood City Council launched the West Hollywood Advocates for Metro Rail (WHAM) as part of a campaign to win grassroots support for a Metro rail extension into the city.[42]

In September 2016, in a letter to West Hollywood City Councilmember Lindsey Horvath, Metro CEO Phil Washington outlined several steps Metro is taking to make the Crenshaw/LAX northern extension “shovel ready” should county voters approve Measure M, a countywide ballot measure adding new transit projects and expediting others previously approved under Measure R.[43]

Connection to the first phase

The final design of the first phase (the original project line south of Exposition Blvd to LAX) would determine how the Phase 2 project could or would connect to Phase 1. The original locally preferred alternative (LPA) for the Crenshaw/LAX Line from the draft environmental impact study (Draft EIS/EIR) specified an at-grade station at the Phase 1 Expo/Crenshaw terminus, with the Leimert Park tunnel ending several blocks south of that, near 39th Street. If Phase 1 had been built per the LPA, then Phase 2 would have required the building of a new tunnel with a connection near 39th Street. This would have required the north end of the Leimert Park tunnel to be outfitted with knockout panels to allow for the possible future extension north.[44]

Metro also studied "Design Option 6" for Phase 1, which would extend the Leimert Park tunnel north to the line's northern terminus at Exposition, with an underground station at Crenshaw/Exposition. This design option was selected so that Phase 2 can connect to Phase 1 directly at the Crenshaw/Exposition station's tunnels. This design option increased the cost of the original Phase 1 project by $236 million.[45]

See also

References

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