After years of delays, the Crenshaw/LAX Line is finally set to open next month

A metro train, traveling on the new K Line, makes its way along Crenshaw Blvd. in Los Angeles, during a test run.
A metro train, traveling on the new K Line, makes its way along Crenshaw Boulevard in Los Angeles, during a test run. Metro’s K Line (Crenshaw/LAX Transit Project) will extend light rail from the existing Metro E Line (Expo) at Crenshaw and Exposition Boulevards to the Metro C Line.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

The long-awaited Crenshaw/LAX rail (K) line will partially open Oct. 7, marking a major milestone for transit in Los Angeles as the region embarks on a massive buildup of infrastructure ahead of the Olympic Games.

The 8½-mile line runs from the Adams District through the heart of historically Black Los Angeles and will eventually offer a path to connect to the Los Angeles Airport and the South Bay, but several construction projects along the route are likely to keep it from fully opening until 2026.

Three years behind schedule and more than $90 million over budget, the rail line broke ground in 2014 and was set to be completed in 2019, but it was beset by an array of problems during construction.

“We are delivering a project that is different than we’d originally planned and took longer to deliver than we’d originally hoped, but is responsive to the needs of our communities, vastly improves upon existing transit options in the communities and will be well used and well loved by Angelenos from all over the region,” Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chief Executive Stephanie Wiggins told the transit board Thursday.

Metro said opening ceremonies will be held at the Leimert Park station.

“As long as we stick to the program schedule, the first train will be leaving the station shortly after we cut the ribbon at noon,” said Wiggins. “We will be offering free rides on the entire Metro bus and rail system, including Metro bike share from noon that Friday to the close of service on Sunday.”

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The rail line is one of several public transit projects that officials hope to open ahead of the 2028 Olympic Games as the agency embarks on what is the nation’s largest public transit construction plan. The full line is nine stops, but only seven stops will be open next month as construction continues on the final two.

The K Line will run along the Crenshaw District, snaking through Inglewood and into Westchester.

The seven stations set to open are: Expo/Crenshaw, Martin Luther King Jr., Leimert Park, Hyde Park, Fairview Heights, Downtown Inglewood and Westchester/Veterans. The Aviation/Century Station construction is complete, but public access will not be available until 2024, while crews complete the Airport Metro Connector Project and the people mover, to provide a direct line into the airport.

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Another planned project along the route at Centinela Avenue would further disrupt the full line with construction to create an above-grade crossing, forcing riders on buses to make the connection. That rail construction is not expected to be completed until 2026.

A separate northern phase of the K line that will weave through Mid-Wilshire, West Hollywood and Hollywood is being planned.