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Light rail extension to West Hollywood might happen much sooner than planned

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Construction could start as early as 2020

The vote on Measure M—a ballot measure that will ask voters to increase the countywide sales tax to fund public transit projects—is just over a month away. A big change is being made that could draw more support from voters in West Hollywood.

According to WEHOville, Metro is moving up its timeline for a possible extension of the forthcoming Crenshaw Line north to the Red Line in Hollywood, a project that would be funded in part with revenue from Measure M, if it passes. The transit agency is now aiming to start construction as early as 2020, much earlier than the pervious plan to start somewhere between 2041 and 2047.

This is great news for West Hollywood. The city has been lobbying Metro hard to get a rail route through its city, one that ideally includes a full swing down Santa Monica Boulevard. It has even brought consultants Fehr & Peers on board to help build its case.

For all the city’s prodding, however, it’s still unclear whether Metro will actually reroute the trains through West Hollywood. The project as currently budgeted calls for the extension to run underneath La Brea Avenue towards the Hollywood and Highland Red Line station, passing by West Hollywood, but not through it.

The sheer economics might just give the edge to the Santa Monica Boulevard option. Fehr & Peers says that running the extension for an additional nine miles from San Vicente down Santa Monica Boulevard will increase ridership "by more than 300%."

City Council members Lindsey Horvath and John Heilman head up the subcommittee working on fostering the West Hollywood Metro project, and they’re confident WeHo will get what it wants. Horvath tells WEHOville, "West Hollywood will have a strong voice in determining the preferred alignment."

Horvath and Heilman had better act quick though. Metro’s plans call for the completion of a feasibility study on all potential routes to be completed by June 2017 and an environmental impact report to be completed by 2018.

Metro is looking to speed through the reports process and move on to construction. Senior city planner Joanna Hankamer says a speedy timeline leaves Metro, "well-positioned to receive additional funding for construction...such as a local tax measure, state and federal grants and financing, and/or public/private partnerships."