Washington, D.C. – In response to last week’s Metrolink crash, Congresswoman Julia Brownley (D-Westlake Village) and House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Ranking Member Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) are urging the California Department of Transportation (CALTRANS) and the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to prioritize funding for the Ventura County Transportation Commission’s (VCTC) proposed Rice Avenue crossing improvement project.
“As members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, we are working diligently to get more funding to state and local transportation planners to address transportation needs. However, as you know, we are prohibited from earmarking funds for specific projects. Therefore, we urge CALTRANS and the CPUC to make safety improvements at the Rice Avenue intersection and other rail-highway crossings along the corridor a top state priority,” wrote Brownley and DeFazio.
According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), between 2006 and 2014, the State of California received over $142 million intended specifically for highway-rail grade crossing improvements (Section 130), but has only obligated $99.9 million, meaning the state has over $42 million in unobligated federal money on the table. In a letter dated March 2, Brownley and DeFazio requested that these unobligated funds be provided to address the immediate safety concerns at Rice Avenue in Oxnard and other rail-highway crossings along the corridor.
In California, the grade crossings selected for Section 130 funding is done by the California Public Utilities Commission, based on their hazard reduction potential. The CPUC annually provides the updated priority list of projects to Caltrans, which is responsible for obligation and oversight of the funding as well as developing contracts with the local agencies and monitoring construction.
A copy of the Brownley-DeFazio letter can be found here: LINK