The Metrolink commuter railroad announced Monday that it was improving four street crossings in Moorpark and Simi Valley to prevent vehicles and pedestrians from getting onto the tracks.
The crossings, which are part of the Ventura County sealed corridor project, are at Moorpark Avenue in Moorpark and 1st Street, Erringer Road and Sycamore Drive in Simi Valley.
Officials said the work will include street widening, automatic exit gates for vehicles, sidewalks, handrails, automatic pedestrian gates and improved traffic signals. The upgrades, which cost about $12.4 million, are scheduled to be finished by the end of the year.
"We are always trying to improve safety at rail crossings. Now we are getting the chance to make those improvements," said Darren Kettle, executive director of the Ventura County Transportation Commission, which is participating in the project.
Also working with Metrolink are the California Department of Transportation, the California Transportation Commission, Moorpark, Simi Valley, Amtrak and Union Pacific Railroad.
Metrolink, which has 512 miles of track, serves six Southern California counties, including Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego and Ventura.
Kettle said the four crossings were given the highest priority for improvement mostly because of their large traffic volumes. They are part of a broader sealed corridor project at Metrolink to upgrade rail crossings throughout its entire system.
Concern about rail crossing safety increased this year when a Metrolink train collided with a heavy-duty pick-up truck and trailer that had strayed onto the tracks at the Rice Avenue crossing near Oxnard. The engineer was fatally injured and 27 passengers were hurt in the Feb. 24 accident.
A $35-million project to separate the tracks and street with an overpass has been delayed for years because of a lack of money.
Though work on the Simi Valley and Moorpark crossings had begun shortly before the Oxnard crash, Kettle said the collision and others like it always focus attention on the safety of existing crossings and what can be done to improve them.
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