Caltrans Excellence in Transportation Award Winners 2017

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Each year, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) highlights the best of its work and the work of its partners through the annual Caltrans Excellence in Transportation Awards Program. Caltrans received nearly 100 entries from within Caltrans, public agencies, private contractors and consultants across the state. Congratulations to those of you who have worked hard to make these projects a reality by participating in the effort to provide positive and measurable improvements in transportation, resulting in a lasting benefit to the state of California.

Intermodal Transportation System

US-101 HOV Project with Class I Bike Path

  • Caltrans District 7
  • Caltrans District 5
  • Santa Barbara Association of Governments
US-101 HOV Project with Class I Bike Path
US-101 HOV Project with Class I Bike Path

The first commuter-period, high-occupancy vehicle lane in Ventura County was built in the median in each direction of US-101 to relieve congestion in this growing region. The lane is open to all traffic during off-peak times. A scenic Class I bike path/pedestrian trail with aesthetic design features along the southbound shoulder was also constructed, upgrading the existing Class III bike path. The bike path/trail completes a 4-mile gap in the California Coastal Trail, providing a connection between Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. The path also offers four new vertical accesses to the beach. An ADA-compliant pedestrian undercrossing at La Conchita gives the public access to the beach where none existed. New intelligent transportation system elements such as vehicle detectors, closed-circuit TV camera and changeable message sign have also been added within the project limits.


The Highway (Rural)

Willits Bypass

  • Caltrans District 1
  • Caltrans Division of Engineering Services
  • Caltrans North Region Design
  • Caltrans North Region Environmental
Willits Bypass
Willits Bypass

The Willits Bypass Project moved US-101 to a new 6-mile alignment on the east side of the city of Willits. It opened to traffic in November 2016 and eliminated the final traffic signals between San Francisco and Eureka. Through partnerships, primarily between Caltrans, Mendocino Council of Governments, the County of Mendocino, and the City of Willits, the project came to fruition—almost 60 years after its conception. The project significantly reduced travel time, improved highway access, and restored downtown Willits from a major highway to the center of a livable rural community. The alignment and design give motorists woodland and pastoral views from start to finish and was chosen to minimize effects to the numerous cultural and natural resources in the Little Lake Valley. A mile-long floodway viaduct significantly minimized wetland impacts and allows exceptional elevated views of the valley. Endangered plant rhizomes were relocated, and over 2,000 adjacent acres of wetland/pasture/woodlands are being restored, enhanced, and protected to mitigate for 80 acres of wetland impacts. This unprecedented effort will help restore the significant hydrologic functions and aquatic habitat of the scenic valley, which for more than a century have been altered by agricultural activities designed to drain it. Many severely degraded stream channels within the project footprint have also been reconstructed and planted with native vegetation to restore historic migratory fish habitat.


The Highway (Urban)

State Route 4 East Widening Project

  • Caltrans District 4
  • Contra Costa Transportation Authority
  • Bay Area Rapid Transit
  • Metropolitan Transportation Commission/Bay Area Toll Authority
State Route 4 East Widening Project
State Route 4 East Widening Project

To address one of the worst commutes in the nation, the Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA), Caltrans, and other project partners completed the State Route 4 East Widening Project, which expanded SR-4 from four to eight lanes along a 7-mile stretch between Loveridge Road in Pittsburg to State Route 160 in Antioch. The project also provided a wide median with bridges, pedestrian overcrossing, station platforms and a tunnel to accommodate a BART extension to Antioch. Designed and developed in five segments, the project included reconstructing five interchanges, one overcrossing and one undercrossing and constructing auxiliary lanes between interchanges. In close partnership with CCTA, Caltrans administered the construction contracts for four of the project’s segments. Through extensive outreach, the team kept about 250,000 residents informed of construction activities and more than 130,000 vehicles moving each day while replacing every inch of pavement along this regionally-significant segment. The project created approximately 13,000 jobs and is expected to stimulate permanent employment – a boon to a local economy that was decimated during the Recession. Successful collaboration among all project partners ensured the project’s on-time and on-budget completion.


Major Structures

Antlers Bridge Replacement

  • Caltrans District 2
  • Tutor Saliba Corp.
  • Lakehead Community Development Association
Antlers Bridge Replacement
Antlers Bridge Replacement

In northern California, Interstate-5 follows a historic north/south route through the Sacramento River Canyon. For 74 years, a 1,328-foot-long long steel deck truss carried I-5 traffic across the Sacramento River arm of Shasta Lake, the largest reservoir in California. Its active fatigue cracks and degrading deck made the bridge an annual drain on the state’s maintenance resources. It lacked shoulders and had a steep, tightly curved approach roadway that some say resembled a ride down a luge run. In September 2016, the aging structure was retired and traffic was moved to a new 1,942-foot-long cast-in-place, pre-stressed concrete box girder constructed adjacent to the old bridge. The height of the bridge, marine environment, recreation, environmental constraints, stakeholders and access constraints created many challenges for the project team and contractor. Once the challenges were overcome and the bridge was complete, it was clear that this $131,000,000 project will, for many years, provide exceptional service for the movement of people and goods in the West.


Stewardship of the Environment

OCTA’s Measure M2 Environmental Mitigation Program

  • Orange County Transportation Authority
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • California Department of Fish and Wildlife
  • Environmental Coalition
OCTA’s Measure M2 Environmental Mitigation Program
OCTA’s Measure M2 Environmental Mitigation Program

Orange County Transportation Authority’s (OCTA) Measure M2 Environmental Mitigation Program allocates funds to acquire land and fund habitat restoration projects in exchange for streamlined biological permits for 13 freeway improvement projects. The conservation properties, or preserves, are purchased and permanently protected as open space. Funded restoration projects restore open space lands to their native habitat and include removing invasive plant species. To date, OCTA has acquired 1,300 acres of preserves and funded 11 restoration projects (350 acres) throughout Orange County. The mitigation program has provided an opportunity for local and regional stewardship that benefits critical habitats and native species. With early support from regulatory and permitting agencies, as well as engagement with the public, OCTA finalized the M2 Natural Community Conservation Plan/Habitat Conservation Plan along with an environmental impact report/statement in November 2016 by integrating the preserves and restoration projects in exchange for the streamlined approval process.


Transportation Related Facilities

San Diego International Airport Rental Car Center

  • San Diego County Regional Airport Authority
  • Austin-Sundt
  • Kimley-Horn and Associates, Inc.
  • Demattei Wong Architecture
San Diego International Airport Rental Car Center
San Diego International Airport Rental Car Center

The new San Diego International Airport Rental Car Center houses rental car companies, including national brands, as well as local, independent and small business rental car companies in one location. The center is designed to enhance the customer experience. The airport-branded shuttle bus system brings rental car customers to and from the airport terminals on an on-airport roadway that bypasses busy city streets. The center is aesthetically pleasing. It features stunning architecture and purposeful, yet playful public art that creates a uniquely San Diego experience that welcomes visitors to the region. The project’s construction was also good for the local economy. Of the total $316 million cost, more than $186 million in construction contracts were awarded to local businesses, with $70 million of that going to small businesses. The project generated about 4,600 jobs, and no local taxes were used to build or operate the center. Construction was completely funded by the Airport Authority using customer facility charges, and the facility’s sustainable design earned it Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. The Rental Car Center at San Diego International Airport is a true model for the airport industry. It sets the standard for customer service, intelligent design, environmental sustainability and efficiency. The project was within budget and opened on schedule in January 2016.


Transportation System Operations Improvements

Yellow Pedestrian Border

  • Caltrans District 2
Yellow Pedestrian Border
Yellow Pedestrian Border

At thousands of signalized intersections throughout the country, a potential for conflict between pedestrians using a crosswalk and turning vehicles exists when the two moves happen together. This type of encounter occurs when waiting pedestrians go unnoticed by motorists because they are standing off to the side and out of the direct line of sight. Supplementing a standard pedestrian signal head module with an actuated yellow LED border provides the ability to advise both vehicular and pedestrian traffic that the signal has received a call to serve a specific crosswalk. The Yellow Pedestrian Border, or YPB, has been studied at five intersections in the city of Redding as part of Federal Highway Administration Experiment 4(09)-13(E). The YPB was found to be a positive enhancement at signalized intersections, providing useful information to both vehicular traffic and pedestrians. Before and after treatment results for the five intersections showed an overall reduction in conflicts, crossing violations, and repeated pedestrian button pushes. Most importantly, the yellow border is most noticeable to motorists during low light and inclement weather conditions when pedestrians are difficult to see and the potential for conflict is most serious.


Traveler and Worker Safety

Cable Barrier Safety Project

  • Caltrans District 11
Cable Barrier Safety Project
Cable Barrier Safety Project

The Interstate 15 High Tension Cable Barrier (HTCB) System Safety Project was constructed on a stretch of I-5 that is a divided eight-lane freeway and is a heavily traveled commuter route that provides access to growing residential communities to the north. This corridor has a rural setting with rolling hillsides and steep slope embankments along the median and outside shoulders. To reduce the frequency and severity of incidents where vehicles leave the traveled way, District 11 installed its first four-strand HTCB systems in the median and along the outside shoulders. The HTCB systems were stained a brown to blend in with the rural setting of this corridor, and a brown-colored concrete vegetation barrier was constructed under the HTCB systems.


Community Enhancement

Healdsburg Bridge over the Russian River

  • Omni Means, Ltd. (A GHD Company)
  • City of Healdsburg
  • Cornerstone Structural Engineering Group
Healdsburg Bridge over the Russian River
Healdsburg Bridge over the Russian River

The Healdsburg Avenue Bridge over the Russian River project consisted of rehabilitating and seismically retrofitting a historic two-span steel Parker truss bridge in Sonoma County. Constructed in 1921, the bridge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and holds a special place with the local community. After nearly a century of service, the existing bridge was plagued with several structural and functional issues and complete replacement was initially considered. Through public outreach, it became apparent that the community strongly desired to rehabilitate the bridge in place as a vehicular bridge, even when presented with options of repurposing it as a pedestrian/bicycle bridge alongside a new modern concrete bridge. After hearing the strong public feedback, the city and design team proceeded to preserve, rehabilitate, and seismically retrofit the existing bridge in place. Special design features were required to restore historic elements while strengthening and seismically retrofitting truss members, maintaining pedestrian and bicycle access critical to the local economy, and improving public health and safety during and after the project. Through a collaborative effort with project stakeholders, including local community members, Caltrans, the Federal Highway Administration and the State Historic Preservation Office, the city and its design team successfully delivered the desired project on schedule and within budget.


Maintenance – Operations or Equipment

Campo Creek Bridge (Replace)

  • Caltrans District 11
Campo Creek Bridge (Replace)
Campo Creek Bridge (Replace)

The Campo Creek Emergency Bridge Replacement Project is located on State Route 94, in San Diego County, about 30 miles east of San Diego and 1-1/4 miles north of the United States/Mexico Border. A Director’s Order was initiated to replace the bridge and ensure the safety and reliability of the principal route in this rural area and the only link to the international border at Tecate, Mexico. The original bridge was a three-span structure constructed in 1942 with a concrete deck on timber stringers and supported by spread footings. Caltrans Structures Maintenance & Investigation engineers recommended immediate replacement of the structure, due to extensive deterioration of the timber stringers and concrete bridge deck, rendering the bridge structurally deficient and in threat of collapse. Water infiltrated through deck cracks on and excessive scour caused the structure to be temporary supported with falsework bents. The bridge replacement was a 58-foot single-span structure over Campo Creek. Accelerated bridge construction methods were used to minimize construction time impacts. Prefabricated bridge deck eliminated the need for falsework, and although this is a small bridge, there were many restrictions the project team had to overcome. They had to be extremely resourceful and innovative to deliver the project within the environmental constraints and community impacts. Caltrans worked closely with all stakeholders to complete the new bridge and reopened the highway in less than 10 weeks.


Highway as a Main Street

Port Access Improvement: Tenth Avenue Terminal

  • Caltrans District 11
  • San Diego Association of Governments
  • Quality Infrastructure Corporation
Port Access Improvement: Tenth Avenue Terminal
Port Access Improvement: Tenth Avenue Terminal

Caltrans collaborated with the community and multiple agencies to integrate an innovative, “context sensitive” and economical solution to deter truck traffic from Cesar E. Chavez Parkway. In addition to operational improvements, a gateway sign, upgraded decorative sidewalks and crosswalks, and landscaping were added along Cesar E. Chavez Parkway and Harbor Drive, developing a parkway concept. The project will improve air quality, reduce noise, and bring safety benefits to Barrio Logan, an “environmental justice” community. The resulting well-defined truck route from Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal to and from the freeway network minimizes negative effects on the community, improves traffic circulation in Barrio Logan and improves the overall quality of life in the neighborhood.


Transportation Innovations to Improve Mobility Across California

Flying Wedge Bicycle Pavement Marking

  • Caltrans District 2
  • Shasta Wheelmen
  • Shasta Living Streets
Flying Wedge Bicycle Pavement Marking
Flying Wedge Bicycle Pavement Marking

One of the challenges for bicyclists traveling along California’s roadways is identifying hazards that can pop a tire or cause a wreck. Drainage inlets, recessed utility box lids, and ground-in rumble strips are common obstacles a cyclist may encounter when riding on a paved highway shoulder. These features are often difficult to see due to shadows, low-light conditions, or the angle of the sun is such that it’s shining in the rider’s eyes. Rumble strips can be hard to distinguish because the depressions tend to blend with the surrounding pavement. These situations create unexpected surprises for cyclists who unknowingly run over them. An easy solution that will help cyclists and improve safety is delineating a path around these hidden obstacles. That is the purpose behind the “Flying Wedge” pavement marking used on State Route 44 between the city of Redding and Palo Cedro. The triangular wedge detail is formed with six-inch white stripes to form a modest taper, starting at the highway edgeline or the outside edge of pavement, to the front edge of the object to be avoided. A perpendicular stripe is placed immediately in front of the hazard to highlight exactly where it is located. This simple striping detail safely guides bicycles away from the hazard, eliminating any guesswork on the part of the rider. The result is improved safety and a better riding experience for the cyclist.


Public Awareness Campaigns

511 Carpool Program

  • Metropolitan Transportation Commission
  • Bay Area Air Quality Management District
  • WSP/Parsons Brinkerhoff
511 Carpool Program
511 Carpool Program

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) manages the 511 Carpool Program, which encourages carpooling and vanpooling to shift travel from single occupant vehicles. A key aspect of the 511 Carpool Program is conducting direct-to-consumer marketing to build awareness of carpooling, increase registrations in its carpool matching database, and increase carpooling trips. In 2014, MTC established formal, first-of-its-kind, no-cost partnerships with private sector carpool matching apps to encourage their proliferation and use. These efforts have already increased use of these apps and grown their databases so that they can enable consistent, mid-to-long-distance commute carpooling from origins and destinations outside the urban core. The program developed unique campaigns to build public awareness and increase carpooling behavior, including short-term incentives that award Scoop carpool app users $5 - $500 for scheduling a ride on a randomly selected day, an outreach blitz at an Oakland A's game, wrapped cars promoting carpooling, sarcastic messaging on billboards, and Pandora ads. It has also used targeted emails, phone calls and in-person outreach at employers, coffee shops, and other retail locations to inform people of their carpool options. Recently, the 511 Carpool Program partnered with BART and Scoop to develop a "Carpool to BART" program, where BART provides guaranteed parking spaces until 10 a.m. for people carpooling to Dublin-Pleasanton BART station with the Scoop app. As a result of these and other campaigns, the 511 Carpool Program is responsible for more than 40,000 carpool trips since January 2015.


Statewide Alerts and Other Information

Contact Information

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