Finally, two major segments of Metro’s $2.15 billion, 8.5-mile Crenshaw-LAX Metro Rail line are “substantially complete,” according to a March 30 blog posting from the agency. The third and final section, on the northern part of the line, is expected to be complete by the end of the summer, with the opening shortly after that.
These milestones are coming nearly three years after originally scheduled. The project has been plagued by repeated delays: first from improperly constructed steel supports, then from slower-than-expected progress on electrical systems testing and then some supply chain and staffing issues.
According to the Metro “Source” blog posting, the agency marked substantial completion for the project between the southern terminus at the C (Green) Line up to 48th Street. A third and final section between 48th Street and the northern terminus at the E Line (Expo) is anticipated to be substantially complete within the next few months.
Metro’s contractor, Walsh-Shea Corridor Constructors (a joint venture between Chicago-based Walsh Group and Walnut-based J.F. Shea Co.), completed in March system integration testing for train control signals, underground ventilation, radio systems, back-up power, fire and smoke alarms and electricity to trains and stations.
Metro has now begun its own five-to-six-month testing period for the new rail line; the agency also began training its operations and maintenance staff in preparation for the line’s future public opening. That opening is slated for “late summer 2022,” though an exact date has not been selected.
At a ceremony that marked these milestones, elected officials noted the long wait.
“We’ve promised Angelenos a state-of-the-art transit system in South L.A. for years, and today, we want to thank our residents and businesses for their perseverance and support – and proudly share that in just a few months, we’ll open up a new train that will ease congestion, improve public health and connect their communities with the rest of our rapidly expanding transit network,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said at the event.
With the end in sight, Metro announced at the ceremony that it’s now shutting down its three business assistance programs for companies impacted by the eight years of Crenshaw-LAX line construction.
The heart of the business assistance program was the Business Interruption Fund, which doled out $20.1 million specifically for the Crenshaw-LAX project to more than 230 mom-and-pop businesses. The grants were capped at $50,000 or 60% of annual business revenue losses – whichever was smaller.
The Business Interruption Fund, which Metro’s board established in 2014 in response to business complaints about the impact of construction on the line, is remaining open. It’s just that funds will no longer go to businesses along the Crenshaw-LAX line; instead, funds will go to businesses impacted by other Metro construction projects.
Another of the programs, called the Business Solution Center, provided business development, support services and referrals to more than 300 small businesses in the Crenshaw and Inglewood communities.
Finally, there was a marketing assistance program – called “Eat, Shop, Play” – aimed at helping businesses along the 8.5-mile construction route market themselves and encourage residents and others to visit the businesses. According to Metro’s blog, more than 150 businesses took advantage of this program.
“These construction mitigation programs have been critical for many local small business owners, giving them much-needed relief,” Metro Board Chair and L.A. County Supervisor Hilda Solis said at the Metro ceremony.