Inside Seven
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Directors Zone

DIRECTOR'S ZONE, JULY, 2007
by  Douglas R. Failing
Issue Date: 07/2007

July is the beginning of a brand new fiscal year for Caltrans – time for a fresh start to move our important transportation improvement projects and programs forward.  We can reflect back with pride on a hugely successful year -- and forward with great anticipation for exciting things to come.  

Regarding Capital Outlay and Program and Project Management, for the second year in a row, District 7 has met 100% of all major milestones.  All of our Environmental Documents were approved, as well as our Construction Contract Acceptance, our Ready to List milestones and all of our Right of Way certifications. This accomplishment could not have been achieved without 100% commitment from staff.   My sincere thanks to everyone has worked so hard to make this possible. 

Environmental staff really pushed hard and persevered while working on the I-405 High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) project from the Santa Monica Freeway (I-10) to U.S. 101.  They are continuing to do a great job interacting and educating the public throughout the environmental process.  We were also able to get federal approval for the Final Environmental Impact Statement for widening the Santa Ana Freeway (I-5) from I-605 to  Route 91 in Orange County -- a great achievement and great staff work!  This project will eliminate the major traffic bottleneck from Orange County to Los Angeles.  Our External Affairs Division has been involved in these projects, and many more, as we continue to   reach out to the public we serve.  Thank you all!

Right of Way staff also delivered all of their commitments to allow us to move ahead on a large number of very important improvement projects in the region.  Excellent work!

Regarding the Ready to List (RTL) portion, not only is this the second year we hit 100% of all major milestones, we were able to advance three important future improvement projects into this fiscal year as well -- two of them from the 08/09 fiscal year.  All three projects involve bridge work on State Route 150 in Ventura County.  Well done!

And again, for the second year in a row, 100% of all commitments for Construction Contract Acceptance were met, which is unheard of in the state!  What this means is that all projects that were scheduled for completion (contract acceptance), were finished on time during this last fiscal year.  Congratulations!  And we were also very fortunate to bring forward some special Go California projects that are necessary to help reduce congestion.  This series of projects have received special funding and a special approach supported by Governor Schwarzenneger to bring them forward more quickly.  Traffic Design and Construction worked together in order to achieve benefits from those projects this fiscal year.

Once again, and as always, the Divisions of Design, Maintenance, Operations, Planning, and Program and Project Management are moving forward doing innovative and excellent work.  My sincere appreciation for all your hard work and dedication.

I also want to thank our Division of Administration for keeping the wheels of our District Office Building turning efficiently.  Our building has received much attention from the media, academia and transportation agencies around the world.  Thank you all for continuing to highlight our world-class facility.

While we are all working hard on achieving great things at Caltrans, we must never lose our focus on our number one priority: safety.  And now that summer is here, we also have some important safety items to focus on.  I have recently noticed a rash of accidents involving Caltrans workers on the job on our road system, mostly due to errant drivers.   I have asked Maintenance, Construction and Surveys at their next series of staff meetings, to re-emphasize our important safety procedures, and how can we approach our work in the safest manner possible. 

During the summer, there are more people on the road and more people visiting this area who are not necessarily familiar with the Los Angeles transportation system.  There are also students or graduates out of school driving more than usual.  We need to be very conscious about what all of this means to our workers.  Equally as important is the safety of the motoring public.  I have noticed that after attending some recent graduation ceremonies, a large increase in the number of fatalities on our road system.  We must always be conscious of the importance of safety – and in this new fiscal year, let us all work together to find more ways to emphasize safe driving practices and the consequences of bad driving behaviors.

Please, drive carefully at all times, and remember to always SLOW FOR THE CONE ZONE.