City, County to Jointly Seek U.S. Funds for Freeway Link

Ventura County's lobbyist in Washington, D.C., will work with Oxnard's to secure $8.9 million in federal money for the proposed extension of Rice Avenue, linking the Port of Hueneme to the Ventura Freeway.

County supervisors unanimously approved the action Tuesday, with Supervisor Frank Schillo noting the additional lobbying effort won't cost the county more money.

The two lobbyists will develop a strategy to pursue the transportation funds already allocated, but not yet appropriated, for the one-mile, four-lane extension.

"It's absolutely essential because of the way they're reordering things in Washington," Schillo said. "There may be less money available and we want to show them this is at the top of the list for every agency in the county."

The regional solidarity is exemplified by a memorandum of understanding that the California Department of Transportation, Oxnard, Port Hueneme, the Port of Hueneme and the county are in the process of signing, Schillo said. The document outlines the roles of each in the project, he said.

Kam Quarles, manager of marketing and trade zone services for the port, said the county action shows a "renewed commitment" to a project vital to the regional economy.

The Rice Avenue extension between Pacific Coast Highway and Hueneme Road would provide truck drivers at the port with a direct route to the Ventura Freeway. Eventually, a $26-million interchange at the Ventura Freeway and Rice Avenue and a $39.3-million state-funded interchange at PCH, Pleasant Valley Road and Rice Avenue would also be built, said Rita Johnson, Oxnard's transportation program manager.

Once those projects are completed--a process that could take as long as a decade--Rice Avenue would be designated part of California 1. Redirecting the truck traffic that thunders along Oxnard Boulevard is considered a key element in revitalizing the city's downtown as well.

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