Washington, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Julia Brownley (D-Westlake Village) hosted an event with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) Administrator Sarah E.Feinberg to announce a $1.5 million grant for the Rice Avenue rail safety project. They were joined by other local officials to discuss this grant to the state of California to fund the design of a bridge to carry vehicular traffic on Rice Avenue over railroad tracks.
Congresswoman Brownley supported this grant through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Railroad Safety Grants for the Safe Transportation of Energy Products (STEP) by Rail Program. In October 2015, Congresswoman Brownley wrote a letter to FRA requesting funds for the Rice Avenue railway-highway grade crossing improvement project. This grant will be used for project design.
“In recent years, we have seen multiple accidents at this busy intersection, including the tragic 2015 Metrolink derailment. Today’s grant announcement will get the process started in moving the Rice Avenue grade-separation project forward, not only to improve safety at the Rice Avenue rail crossing, but also allow the smoother flow of goods from the Port of Hueneme,” said Brownley.
“The safest crossing is one that doesn’t exist, and through Congresswoman Brownley’s efforts in fighting for this grant, we are closer to closing a crossing where thousands of trains and cars pass each other every day,” said FRA Administrator Sarah E. Feinberg. “By separating Rice Avenue from the tracks below, we will increase safety for both rail passengers and drivers and increase Los Angeles’ transportation system reliability.”
“Congresswoman Brownley, you were instrumental in getting this $1.5 million. This is great news for the farms, port commerce and commuters because the safe movement of goods and people is priority one,” said Carrie Bowen, Caltrans District 7 Director. “We look forward to developing this project.”
“Everyone recognizes that safety is not a destination, it is a continual journey,” said Keith Millhouse, Chair of the Ventura County Transportation Commission. “I would like to thank Congresswoman Brownley for continuing to get things done. This grant is another example of the Congresswoman’s accomplishments.”
The Department of Transportation grant provides funds for the design of a six-lane bridge on Rice Avenue in Oxnard, over the Union Pacific Railroad tracks and State Route 34. This new design will improve safety at the heavily travelled intersection. According to FRA, the annual train traffic through the project area includes: 1,820 Metrolink commuter trains, 3,120 Amtrak intercity trains and 4,368 Union Pacific trains. Rice Avenue is also a primary truck route to the Port of Hueneme with average daily traffic of 35,000 vehicles.
As a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Brownley has worked to secure more funding for state and local transportation. The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, which was signed into law in December 2015, included several amendments authored by Brownley to improve railway-highway grade crossing safety.