Notorious railroad crossings in Oxnard, California

Highway 34 is an east-west road between the towns of Oxnard and Camarillo, California which is closely paralleled by a Union Pacific railroad track. There are some north south roads that cross or intersect ‘5th street’, as highway 34 is known locally. At these intersections there are traffic lights, and at-grade railroad crossings.

(Copyright image, 2019.)

The intersections at Rose Avenue, Rice Avenue, and Del Norte Boulevard have been the sites of multiple road vehicle and train collisions. Traveling south on Rose avenue on the approach to the 5th street traffic light there is an at grade railroad crossing with only enough room to accommodate one or two cars between the railroad track and the traffic lights (see video below). There is not enough room to accommodate a tractor trailer, and often these large vehicles will be stopped at the traffic light with the trailer straddling the railroad tracks. The video is a record of one such incident that was also shown on several TV shows.

At Rice avenue a similar layout is encountered by southbound motorists approaching 5th street.  During the early hours  of February 24th 2015 a southbound motorist inexeplicably turned right onto the railroad track and became stuck. Shortly afterwards, a Los Angeles bound commuter train collided with the stranded pick-up truck. Here is the NTSB report on this fatal collision.

There are frequent law enforcement operations carried out at these crossings. which get lots of local publicity. Here is a more recent report on enforcement efforts.

From the linked reports and further search engine enquiries it should become clear that two of three ‘E’s’ of road safety have been frequently practised. Namely Enforcement and Education. Unfortunately the third ‘E’ of engineering has been sorely lacking, and that was alluded to in the above NTSB report.

At grade railroad crossings are very hazardous to begin with. Having them placed next to a busy crossroads intersection makes them much more hazardous. The only solution to stopping these incidents is to build bridges over the railroad and implement an ‘Engineering’ solution.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.