Metro Proposal for New Rail Viaduct May Delay Crenshaw Line

A staff report to the Metro Board’s Planning Committee details a proposal to build new rail viaduct in the City of Inglewood, separating light rail vehicles from north-south traffic on Centinela Avenue. The Crenshaw Line, as currently constructed, has a street-level crossing at the intersection. Cost estimates for the viaduct range between $185 million and $241 million. Funding would be provided in part by South Bay Cities Council of Governments, and potentially other state and federal sources.

A groundbreaking is expected to begin in either Spring or Summer 2021, with completion expected within 23 months. The building of the viaduct would interrupt service on the Crenshaw Line, requiring a bus bridge during the nearly two-year construction period.

Inglewood officials have long pushed for grade separation at Centinela Avenue, citing the intersection’s location near the City’s Downtown neighborhood and the Inglewood Park Cemetery. That effort has ramped up in the years since the Crenshaw/LAX Line broke ground, due in part to the pending completion of a massive sports and entertainment district at the former Hollywood Park Racetrack. The development is centered on SoFi Stadium – the future home of the NFL’s Chargers and Rams – but will also include housing, offices, and retail space.

Additionally, the Los Angeles Clippers are currently pursuing entitlements to construct a new NBA arena on properties near the intersection of Prairie Avenue and Century Boulevard.

Officials anticipate that both projects, as well as adjoining commercial developments, will increase automobile traffic on surrounding corridors such as Centinela Avenue.

Separately, Inglewood is also planning an automated people mover system which would link the Crenshaw/LAX Line’s Downtown station with the Forum, SoFi Stadium, and the proposed Clippers arena.

The proposed viaduct at Centinela Avenue represents another setback for the Crenshaw/LAX Line, which will connect Metro’s C and E Lines. Originally scheduled for completion in 2019, the 8.5-mile light rail line has seen its completion date twice pushed back first to 2020, and recently to 2021.

This is not the first time that question of grade separation has plagued the Crenshaw Line. Plans for street-level tracks in the median of Crenshaw Boulevard were the subject of a lawsuit filed against Metro in 2011 by the Crenshaw Subway Coalition, an organization formed to advocate in favor of a fully-subterranean aligntment.

While the lawsuit ultimately failed to block at-grade tracks from being built in the Hyde Park neighborhood, community stakeholders rallied to turn “insult into opportunity,” through the Destination Crenshaw project, a 1.3-mile corridor of new parks and public art celebrating African-American culture which flanks the rail line.

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Photo Credit – Metro 

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