Today, Metro opened its newest light rail line to the public: the 8.5-mile $2 billion K Line, also known as the Crenshaw/LAX Line. In celebration, rides are free on the entire Metro system all weekend.
Opening ceremonies were held in Leimert Park Village. The location was notable, both because it is the cultural beating heart of Black Los Angeles and because Metro had originally planned to bypass the Village altogether. L.A.'s Black elected leadership - from Mayor Tom Bradley, to U.S. Representatives Maxine Waters and Karen Bass, to Supervisor/Councilmember Mark Ridley-Thomas and many others - pushed for the Crenshaw/LAX Line as an investment in Black Los Angeles. As such, Ridley-Thomas argued almost a decade ago, Leimert Park could not be overlooked.
Metro CEO Stephanie Wiggins, who helped get the K Line across the (almost) finish(ed) line, spoke of Metro fulfilling a promise to the tenacious South L.A. community. She declared that the line advances equity and justice, while also helping address climate change.
Numerous leaders praised the line for connecting communities, bolstering sustainability, creating quality jobs, helping people access jobs, and much more.
The line is largely at grade, and includes underground and elevated stretches. The northern 1.5 miles are underground, with three subway stations. The southern end of the line, near LAX, includes several aerial stretches.
The seven stations currently open are Expo/Crenshaw, Martin Luther King Jr., Leimert Park, Hyde Park, Fairview Heights, Downtown Inglewood, and Westchester/Veterans.
Two additional stations are anticipated to open in 2024, when the Airport Metro Connector is completed.
Construction did not go smoothly. The line was not on budget. Nor was it on time, something that prolonged the hardships for businesses along Crenshaw and exacerbated the frustration many felt about it running at grade up the spine of the historic Black business corridor.
In the interim, stakeholders have worked to harness the change the new line will inevitably bring. Destination Crenshaw is the most visible effort to, as L.A. City Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson has often put it, turn "insult into opportunity" and let those on the train know they are moving through a historically Black space. The 1.3-mile-long open-air "People's Museum" will honor the past, present, and future of Black L.A. via parklets, landscaping, and permanent and rotating artworks. It is currently under construction.
Destination Crenshaw: Destination Crenshaw broke ground in February 2020. Construction is currently underway on Sankofa Park, the project's northern anchor. Located just south of Leimert Park Village, the interactive monument will allow visitors to reflect back on the length of the Crenshaw corridor and the stories of Black L.A. that both the permanent and rotating artworks will tell.
Inglewood Peoplemover: The city of Inglewood is expecting to start construction soon on its 1.6-mile peoplemover project that will connect the K Line to SoFi Stadium. Today, Inglewood Mayor James Butts pledged the project would be completed by 2027, in time for the Olympics.
Centinela Grade Separation: Metro is pursuing a potential $200+ million Centinela Boulevard grade separation project, designed to spur more, easier, and faster driving through Inglewood. It could result in a two-year closure of part of the K Line.
Crenshaw North: Eventually, Metro plans to extend the Crenshaw Line northward through South L.A., Mid-City, and West Hollywood.
Metro expects to open another light rail project - the downtown L.A. Regional Connector subway - in early 2023, likely in or around February.