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$4.5-Million Expansion of Train Station Slated

Transit: Official says the changes will benefit Cal State students in Camarillo and help make area a transportation center.

May 26, 2000|CATHERINE BLAKE | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

A planned $4.5-million expansion of the Camarillo train station is the first step toward creation of a mid-county transportation hub that will provide more transit opportunities for students at the developing Cal State University Channel Islands.

Set to begin in August, the station expansion will double to 600 the number of parking spaces, add another train platform, and improve lighting and security. Plans call for a modified track for train passing and a pedestrian over-crossing on the north side of the Ventura Freeway.

The expansion is partly designed to accommodate anticipated transportation demands at the nearby university, said Mary Travis, director of rail programs for the Ventura County Transportation Commission. The university is set to open in 2002, the same year the station expansion is scheduled to be completed.

But it could also evolve into a substantial transportation center, capable of handling more trains, buses and cars near the Ventura Freeway, outlet shops and a downtown city promenade.

This week, the Camarillo City Council recommended awarding a $300,000 contract to Vicqui McCaslin, a local artist, to design a Spanish-style facade for the inside walls of the planned train shelter.

Her baroque designs and tile work are meant to complement the ongoing redevelopment theme of downtown Camarillo, according to transportation engineer Tom Fox.

Fox said the redesign will make the station more comfortable and accommodating and at the same time allow more trains to travel the corridor in the middle of the day. The current station was built as a temporary structure after the 1994 Northridge earthquake to help residents get to work in Los Angeles.

"It will have the feeling of a station, instead of an underpass," Fox said. "It will be a refuge that is an inhabitable area with improvements like seating, benches and artwork."

Although the county already has a "transportation center" in Oxnard, officials said there is room for another one, especially so close to the freeway.

The Oxnard transportation center is the hub of SCAT, the west county bus service, and draws an Amtrak Coast Starlight train, which goes from Los Angeles to Seattle with minimal stops.

However, the Camarillo station's proximity to the university makes it an ideal location for students. And it is in the geographic center of the county, allowing train or bus travelers to transfer without straying too far from the freeway.

"For Camarillo, this is the next logical step in growing up," Travis said. "They have established their commercial center, focused on improving access to trains and buses and they are working to tie it together."

Other major construction projects are planned for the area that will complement the station expansion and improve transit options, officials said.

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