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Frequently Asked Questions

Background

1. What are the boundaries of the Crenshaw Transit Corridor and why is the area being studied?

The Crenshaw Transit Corridor study area extends approximately 10 miles from Wilshire Blvd. on the north to El Segundo Blvd. on the south. The study area is north-south oriented and includes portions of five local government jurisdictions: the cities of El Segundo, Hawthorne, Inglewood and Los Angeles, as well as portions of unincorporated Los Angeles County, California. The study area is generally defined as the area extending north to Wilshire Blvd., east to Arlington Ave., south to El Segundo Blvd., and west to Sepulveda Blvd./La Tijera Blvd./La Brea Ave.

The Crenshaw Transit Corridor currently has high densities of population and employment and substantial numbers of transit-dependent persons. Population and employment is forecast to grow by 18% and 20%, respectively, by 2030. The forecasted growth in travel in the corridor will increase congestion and delay on the existing roadway system. The corridor currently has poor connections to the Metro rail transportation system.

The existing Metro Rapid Bus routes, which connect to the regional rail system, are constrained by existing traffic congestion and increased demand for transit service. Improved transit services are needed to connect corridor residents and employees with Metro’s regional transportation network, including existing and planned Metro rail lines and Metro Rapid corridors, thereby improving mobility and access to regional activity centers. Unless improvements are made, mobility will decline as population and employment continue to grow in the future.

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Current Study Process

2. What is an Alternatives Analysis (AA)?

An AA identifies and analyzes the range of potential transit improvements within the study area in order to support a decision on a transit investment that meets stated goals and objectives for the corridor. For the Crenshaw Transit Corridor Project, the AA is combined with the formal environmental analysis, such that it is published in combination with the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) as an AA/EIS/EIR. An initial set of alternatives is developed at the on-set of the AA and is refined during a step called Scoping, at which time, the alternatives are presented to the public and agencies for review and comment.

In addition to the alternatives proposed, other transit alternatives identified during scoping, public and agency comments and suggestions are evaluated for potential inclusion in the AA/EIS/EIR. Following scoping, a screening of all the alternatives narrows down the number of alternatives based on a review against purpose and need, project goals and objectives, assessment of physical feasibility, and evaluation criteria developed for the project. A shorter list of alternatives will then be analyzed in more detail and documented in the AA/EIS/EIR.

3. What is an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)?

An EIS is a document that is prepared, as determined by the National Environmental Policy Act, for projects involving federal action or funding where there may be significant impacts to the environment. The EIS identifies the potential social, economic, transportation, and environmental impacts of the construction and operation of the “build” alternatives selected for evaluation in comparison to the No-Build Alternative and an enhanced bus alternative, referred to as the Transportation Systems Management (TSM) Alternative.

The purpose of an EIS is to provide a full and open evaluation of environmental issues associated with project alternatives, as well as to inform decision-makers and the public of reasonable alternatives that could avoid or minimize adverse impacts and enhance the quality of the environment. It will also identify measures to mitigate any adverse effects identified.

The evaluation of impacts is summarized in a Draft EIS document, which is circulated for public and agency comment over a 45-day period. Public hearings are held to present the results documented in the Draft EIS and to formally record all comments. A Final EIS is then prepared to update and document comments received during circulation of the Draft and any changes made as a result of those comments. Before finalizing the Draft document, a Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA) is identified and recommended. The final document must be approved by the federal government in order to move to the next step in the project development process – Preliminary Engineering.  

The Final EIS will identify and compare the impacts of the LPA to the No-Build Alternative evaluated in the Draft EIS.

4. What is an Environmental Impact Report (EIR)?

An EIR is an informational document which provides public agencies and the general public with detailed information about the effects that a proposed project are likely to have on the environment. In addition, an EIR lists the ways in which these environmental effects might be minimized and whether there are any alternatives to avoid the effects of the proposed project.

Many projects in California that require discretionary approvals are required to prepare an EIR, which assesses the physical impacts of a project to the environment. In California, references are usually made to a project’s AA/EIS/EIR, rather than simply to its AA/EIS. This is because California has state level requirements, per the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), that require an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) be prepared for projects that may have significant effects on the environment.

The state level requirements for an EIR are similar in content and purpose to the federal requirements for an EIS and, therefore, the two efforts are typically coordinated and combined into a single document.

5. How is the Crenshaw Transit Corridor project funded?

The proposed project is included in the baseline of the current Metro Long Range Transportation Plan and the current Southern California Association of Government’s (SCAG) Regional Transportation Plan. Both agencies are updating their plans and this project continues to be reflected in both plans’ funded elements.

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Transit Modes/Technologies/Alignments

6. What transit modes and transit technologies are being considered?

A technology assessment was conducted to determine the type of transit service suitable for operation within the Crenshaw Transit Corridor. Based on a review of a range of technologies, it was determined that Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) and Light Rail Transit (LRT) are the most practical transit technologies that meet the purpose and need and are cost effective.

These technologies are also generally compatible with other modes in existence, under construction, or being considered by Metro for other corridors. These two technologies were selected to carry forward into the AA/DEIS/DEIR for evaluation against rapid bus under the No-Build and Transportation System Management (TSM) Alternatives. The TSM Alternative represents a lower cost approach to improving transit services.

It represents the best that can be done to improve mobility without the more costly fixed facilities of the BRT or LRT alternatives.

7. What routes or alignments are under consideration? How will the preferred alignment and mode be selected? How will a final decision be made?

The Build Alternatives were selected based on comments received during scoping and on analysis of engineering, right-of-way, and land use constraints. The two build alternatives represent the application of two modes – BRT and LRT – along one general alignment.

The Build Alternatives were selected based on comments received during scoping and on analysis of engineering, right-of-way, and land use constraints. The two build alternatives represent the application of two modes – Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) and Light Rail Transit (LRT) – along one general alignment. 

  • LRT from Exposition/Crenshaw to Metro Green Line via the Harbor Subdivision – This alternative operates from the Exposition LRT line (under construction) south along Crenshaw Blvd. toward the Harbor Subdivision. The alignment would turn west onto the Harbor Subdivision right-of-way (ROW) and follows the ROW west and south toward Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and a connection to the existing Metro Green Line near the Aviation Station. This connection would enable continuing service toward the Redondo Beach Station. Various design options involving segments of grade separation will be explored, specifically along Crenshaw Blvd. between Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. and Vernon Ave. and south of 60th St. and along the Harbor Subdivision at La Brea. A direct transfer connection to LAX terminals would be provided from a station at Aviation and Century Blvds. via a "People Mover" proposed by Los Angeles World Airport.

The LRT Alternative is being designed to allow for a future extension north of the Metro Expo Line in the direction of Wilshire Blvd. and a potential connection to a fixed-guideway transit facility. Outside of the formal environmental study, the project team is studying the feasibility of a future LRT extension north of Exposition/Crenshaw station in the direction of the intersection of Wilshire Blvd. and La Brea Ave.

  • BRT from the Metro Purple Line Wilshire/Western to the Metro Green Line via the Harbor Subdivision – This alternative operates from Wilshire/Western west toward Crenshaw Blvd. where it turns south along Crenshaw Blvd. toward the Harbor Subdivision. The alignment would turn west onto the Harbor Subdivision and follows the ROW west and south toward LAX and a connection to the existing Metro Green Line at the existing Aviation Station. The BRT Alternative involves the implementation of dedicated lanes along Crenshaw Blvd. between the Exposition Line and the Harbor Subdivision ROW and the development of an exclusive busway along the Harbor Subdivision ROW between Crenshaw Blvd. and Imperial Hwy. Some segments of this exclusive busway are being considered for grade separations.  

As with the LRT Alternative, a direct transfer connection to LAX terminals would be provided from a station at Aviation and Century Blvds. via a "People Mover" proposed by Los Angeles World Airports.

The preferred transit alignment and mode will be selected based on the results of the evaluation of alternatives against purpose and need, the goals and objectives established for the project, and comments received from the public and agencies during circulation of the AA/DEIS/DEIR. Generally, the preferred alternative is the mode and alignment that produces the most benefits, is cost effective and affordable, while minimizing impacts to the community.

The final decision on the project to be implemented will be made by the Metro Board of Directors following circulation of the Final EIS/EIR.

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Schedule

8. What is the schedule for the Crenshaw/LAX Transit Corridor study/project?

The Metro Board received the draft environmental impact statement/report in December 2009 and adopted the 8.5 mile Light Rail line extending from the Exposition Line currently under construction to the Metro Green Line Aviation station as the Locally Preferred Alternative.  They also directed that we complete the Final Environmental document and associated engineering, continue the analysis of three additional design options and identify and environmentally clear maintenance facility sites. The Final EIS/EIR is scheduled for completion and release to the public for review in late 2010. It is anticipated that our Board will certify the environmental document and adopt the project in winter 2011.  Following the Notice of Determination from our Board, a Record of Decision from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) will occur later in 2011. The Long Range Transportation Plan (adopted in October 2009) shows the Crenshaw/LAX Corridor  with a planned completion date of 2018. 

9. How do the results of the community’s input during the public scoping process get incorporated into the study, and how do they get transmitted back to the community?

All community input received during the public scoping process is recorded in the project comment database, reviewed by the project team and considered in the technical evaluation of alternatives and alignments. Comments are documented in the Crenshaw Transit Corridor Project Scoping Report, the Executive Summary of which will be posted on the metro.net/crenshaw webpage.

As new information regarding the progress of the study is published, the public will note that alternatives have been revised or eliminated, based on technical evaluation and input received. At appropriate stages of the project, public meetings will be convened to provide the community with education and information and to obtain additional input that could be instrumental in shaping the project. The project team is also available to attend and make presentations.

10. How can I stay involved in the study process and provide my input?

Throughout the study process, a number of communication tools will be utilized to provide project status to the public. The project webpage metro.net/crenshaw will be updated as new information becomes available. Public meetings will be announced on the webpage and advertised via e-mail, local newspapers and fliers.

The Metro team is also available to provide presentations and transit line tours to community organizations. If you are interested in presentations or tours, please contact the project team via e-mail crenshaw@metro.net; project telephone information line: 213.922.2736, or via e-mail submitted through the website metro.net/crenshaw.

11. How will the general public be involved in the review process for the AA/EIS/EIR document?

Once the AA/DEIS/DEIR is completed and approved by the Federal Transit Administration, it will be circulated for a 45-day public review period and public hearings will be held to receive and record comments. Following the review of the AA/DEIS/DEIR and public hearings, comments will be considered and responded to as the FEIS/FEIR.
Connectivity

12. What is meant by “connectivity” and why is it important in transportation planning for Crenshaw?

“Connectivity” refers to the ability of a given traveler to “connect” to various transportation facilities and thereby access a broader range of trip origins and destinations. For example, interchanges and on/off ramps are provided along freeways to allow travelers access to the local street network or to other freeways. Similarly, stations are provided along rail transit lines to allow travelers to “connect” from local bus routes or automobiles to other major rail transit lines.

“Connectivity” is key to an effective transportation system. In the particular context of the Crenshaw Transit Corridor, a predominantly north-south corridor, connections to east-west transit routes such as the existing Metro Green Line and Exposition Light Rail Transit Line (currently under construction) would provide access to the many destinations along those routes.

13. Will the Crenshaw Transit Corridor Line provide a direct connection to the Metro Expo Line and Metro Green Line or will a transfer be required? What about the Metro Purple Line?

The purpose of the Crenshaw Transit Corridor Study is to improve mobility in the corridor and access to regional activity centers. The Crenshaw Corridor potentially provides a connection with existing transit lines, such as the Metro Green Line, and transit lines under development, such as the Exposition Light Rail Transit Line. Some of the alternatives under consideration include direct connections to either or both these lines. Transfer connections to the Metro Purple Line and the Wilshire corridor are also included as part of several of the alternatives.

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Grade Separations and Safety

14. What does “grade separation” mean?

There are three general “grade” levels:

  • At-grade or ground level, i.e. the same level as adjacent roadways and land-uses
  • Above-grade or above ground, i.e. higher than the level of adjacent roadways and land-uses
  • Below-grade or below ground, i.e. lower than the level of adjacent roadways and land-uses

Transportation facilities are considered “grade separated” when they are at different grade levels from one another. For example, a rail line is “grade separated” from the roadway if the rail line is above or below the existing roadway. Bridges, tunnels, and trenches are used to achieve grade separation.

Grade separation of two transportation facilities is typically undertaken to separate conflicting traffic or pedestrian movements so they do not impede or delay one another, thereby enhancing operations and improving safety. It is also undertaken in cases where there is not enough right-of-way or no right-of-way to accommodate the proposed facility.

15. What factors determine whether a rail project is built at street level (at-grade), below ground (below-grade), and/or aerial (above-grade)?

A variety of factors are considered when selecting between street level (at-grade), below ground, or aerial (above grade) configurations. These factors include a range of mobility, environmental, community, and cost considerations such as travel times, trip reliability, transit capacity, safety and security, right-of-way impacts, natural and cultural resources, traffic and circulation, visual and aesthetics impact, noise and vibration impact, community acceptance, construction impact and cost-effectiveness.

16. How will pedestrian safety, especially near schools, be addressed?

Appropriate pedestrian crossing control devices for at-grade crossings are critical for rail system safety. In addition to standard cross-walk markings, control devices for pedestrian crossings include flashing light signals, signs, markings along the outside of the rail line, curbside pedestrian barriers, pedestrian automated gates, swing gates, bedstead barriers and crossing channelization.

The Federal Highway Administration’s Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices and Railroad-Highway Grade Crossing Handbook, Revised Second Edition, available online at the following address http://www.ite.org/bookstore/gradecrossing/, describes these devices in greater detail. Metro policies related to grade separations along exclusive rights-of-way will also be applied.

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Environmental Impacts To Be Evaluated

17. What types of environmental impacts are analyzed in an EIS/EIR, and what are some “types of questions” that will be asked and answered in the preparation of the environmental analysis?

The environmental analysis will evaluate the environmental, transportation, social, and economic impacts of the construction and operation of a proposed transit project and project alternatives. The impacts to be evaluated and examples of the types of questions that will be answered in the EIS/EIR include:

  • Purpose and Need (e.g.: What are the underlying reasons that transportation improvements are needed in the corridor?)
  • Traffic and parking (e.g.: What is the impact of on traffic congestion of any alignment that follows streets in the corridor? What methodology is used to assess that impact? Will there be any impact to existing parking spaces?)
  • Land use (e.g.: Is the project consistent with existing land uses and land use plans and policies? Are there any potentially significant land use changes resulting from implementation of the proposed project?)
  • Property acquisition/displacement/relocation (e.g.: How will the need, if any, for property acquisition be determined?)
  • Parklands/recreation areas and cultural resources (e.g.: How will access and preservation issues be addressed?)
  • Visual and aesthetic impacts (e.g.: What will the station’s catenary wires and trains look like? Will any of the mature trees in the parkway of sidewalks be removed? What happens with medians that have recently been landscaped?)
    Noise and vibration impacts (e.g.: What kind of noise is generated by the trains or buses?)
  • Natural Resources and Hazards (e.g.: How will air quality, wetlands, water resources, geology/soils and hazardous materials be evaluated?)
  • Energy Use (e.g.: What are the energy consumption characteristics associated with each of the alternatives?)
  • Safety and Security (e.g.: What are the safety and security impacts associated with each alternative?)
  • Construction Impact (e.g.: What will happen to our streets when construction starts? Will there be street closures, lane closures, and detours, etc?)

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Connections to Other Projects

18. How does the Crenshaw Transit Corridor relate to efforts to extend the Metro Green Line toward LAX?

The LRT alternative defined for the Crenshaw Transit Corridor Project actually includes the creation of a connection between the Metro Green Line and LAX terminals. In fact, the LRT alternative involves service by both a Crenshaw LRT Line and the Metro Green Line to a new station at Aviation/Century. Passengers from both these lines would connect at Aviation/Century to a people mover to reach the airport terminals.

If the LRT alternative is chosen, implementation of the LRT alternative would accomplish one mile of the planned Metro Green Line extension and would achieve the airport connection, assuming LAX completes its plans for an Automated People Mover.

19. How with the Crenshaw Transit Corridor connect to the airport from Aviation/Century?

Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) is planning (as part of its Master Plan) an automated people mover from the Central Terminal Area to the Ground Transportation Center near the intersection of Aviation and Century Blvds. and possibly to the Aviation/Imperial Metro Green Line station. Those facilities are included in updates to the Los Angeles International Airport Specific Plan, currently being undertaken by LAWA.

20. How does the Crenshaw Transit Corridor relate to the Metro Harbor Subdivision Alternatives Analysis?

The section of rail ROW proposed for use by the Crenshaw Transit orridor is part of a larger section of ROW which Metro purchased in 1993 known as the Harbor Subdivision. Both the Crenshaw Corridor and the Harbor Subdivision project may use a similar segment of the Harbor Subdivision adjacent to Florence Ave. and Aviation Blvd. 

The Crenshaw Transit Corridor Project is further along in the planning process than the Harbor Subdivision Alternatives Analysis. Metro is planning the Crenshaw Corridor alternatives so as not to preclude solutions for the Harbor Subdivision ROW. The Harbor Subdivision Alternatives Analysis will consider a broader range of alternatives designed to address transportation needs along the entire corridor. The Harbor Subdivision Alternatives Analysis began public outreach in the fall of 2008.


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