Congresswoman Julia Brownley

Representing the 26th District of California


Feb 11, 2016
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Julia Brownley (D-Westlake Village) announced that $1.5 million has been secured for the proposed Rice Avenue railway-highway grade crossing improvement project. 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. Funds will be used for project design.

“This is the first step in moving the Rice Avenue grade-separation project forward,” said Rep. Julia Brownley. “In recent years, we have seen multiple accidents at this busy intersection, including the tragic 2015 Metrolink derailment. This project will not only improve safety at the Rice Avenue rail crossing, but it will also allow the smoother flow of goods from the Port of Hueneme."

“This crossing has been identified by Caltrans as a priority grade separation location due to the repeated accidents involving trucks and cars being struck by trains. Its importance is magnified because Rice Avenue is the primary truck access route to the Port of Hueneme. Due to this corridor’s significant role in freight movement throughout the region, the Ventura County Transportation Commission has nominated Rice Avenue for inclusion in the National Freight Network. It is because of the safety concerns and efficient freight movement VCTC in partnership with Caltrans applied for this grant,” said Darren Kettle, Executive Director of the Ventura County Transportation Commission. “I am thrilled that Congresswoman Brownley has championed our application and secured this funding to get the Rice Avenue project off the ground.”

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.  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.  

“The safe movement of goods and people is priority one,” said Carrie Bowen, Caltrans District 7 Director. “This is great news for the farms, port commerce and commuters. We look forward to developing this project.”

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.

In October, Brownley contacted the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Railroad Administration to request funds for the Rice Avenue grade separation project.  A copy of the Brownley letter is attached in this LINK.


Congresswoman Julia Brownley represents most of Ventura County and serves on the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee and the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.