Inside Seven
Current Issue: September 2014
The Strategic Growth Plan team representing the Office of Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS).

by  Jeanne Bonfilio
Issue Date: 07/2008

“Caltrans has a specific challenge unique to Los Angeles. We are known as national leaders in congestion. But what we are less recognized for -- and most importantly -- is that Caltrans is also the national leader in trying to figure out how to get out of congestion.” - District 7 Director Douglas R. Failing.

In a room packed with enthusiastic transportation professionals and partners, Frank Quon, Deputy District Director for Operations, said that the June 18 Strategic Growth Plan Celebration was more than just a celebration -- it was a story of success.

Over 100 people from various divisions received certificates of appreciation for contributions to the successful delivery of the Strategic Growth Plan Projects during fiscal year 2006/07. The ceremony marked the culmination of what began in 2005 as Governor Schwarzenegger’s vision to deliver short-term congestion relief projects as part of a Strategic Growth Plan.

Caltrans Chief Deputy Randall Iwasaki; Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) General Manager Rita Robinson; and Borja Leon, representing Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, were guests for an award presentation at the District Office Building.

“Caltrans has specific challenges unique to Los Angeles,” he said. “We are known as national leaders in congestion. But what we are less recognized for -- and most importantly -- is that Caltrans is also the national leader in trying to figure out how to get out of congestion,” said District 7 Director Doug Failing.

From the Governor’s proposal, the Department identified 38 statewide congestion improvement projects, totaling $137 million, of which District 7 implemented seven congestion relief projects for freeways and arterial highways. What made this accomplishment unique was that from the time the program started, the projects were all delivered -- and the public benefited --within 18 months. The Governor’s goal was for a two-year delivery deadline. Some of the projects are a first for the Department and some set a precedent in the country.

“The Governor’s vision presented an opportunity for Caltrans to create and identify projects that would provide congestion relief and deliver such projects to the people of California in a short period of time,” said Quon. “Adding to that, statewide, Caltrans also delivered about 300 projects for almost $2.5 billion. That is a phenomenal feat. And to be able to take on these new projects and insert them into a project delivery process was amazing.”

One freeway congestion relief strategy consisted of a $16.5-million project for system-wide adaptive ramp metering (or SWARM) on the Foothill Freeway (I-210). This was the first time that such a comprehensive metering system was implemented on a corridor-wide basis on a State Highway in California and the nation. The project has provided a significant improvement in travel speeds and reduction in congestion and vehicle hours of delay on this route.

In another project for state highways or arterials was a $14-million signal synchronization project on five state highways: Routes 1, 66, 72, 107, and 213, targeting the upgrade of 200 intersections. This system was developed and previously proven successful by the LADOT and now enables greater arterial management based on real-time traffic conditions. Again, this was also the first time that such a system was implemented on a corridor-wide basis on a California State Highway. A key element in this project is LADOT’s Automated Traffic Surveillance and Control System (ATSAC), a leading national and world model in adaptive traffic signal control systems for the past decade.

Failing credits Caltrans staff and partnerships for getting the job done right and spoke of his appreciation of our partnership with LADOT.

“You, the Caltrans employees, have stepped to the plate, moving forward, doing new things, doing different things and bringing them into the state of California – things that no one else in the world is doing,” he said. “Caltrans has achieved this success because of good partnerships. We have to work together. It’s not the state system, versus the city system, versus the county system.

“Way to go!” added Raja Mitwasi, Chief Deputy District Director. “You have done it again and again; five years in row we have delivered 100 percent. And over and beyond that, we continue to deliver more than what we commit to. I want to thank you for a job well done and for making District 7 the best in the state for five years in a row. We could not do it without all of you.”

Robinson, of LADOT, said the main focus of Caltrans and the LADOT is short-term and long-term congestion relief. “Not only are we neighbors and friends but we share your building. On behalf of the mayor and 2,000 employees I represent at the LADOT, I am proud to be here today with all of you who do the work.”

“There is harmony between our two organizations because both recognize that travelers on the transportation system don’t always recognize the boundaries of that transportation system,” Robinson said. “They depend on the system to be there. And that is why our partnership has grown so much.”

Robinson expressed her pride with LADOT’s upgraded ATSAC program and for all of their staff who worked so hard and for all of the expertise from Caltrans. She said it is important to link these resources together.

“We are so proud to have been able be part of this collaborative effort and we hope that it provides synergy for even more projects,” she added. “And if we can link our resources together, we can move this in a direction where it has probably never been before. There is only cooperation and partnership, and at the end of the day – results.”

Failing said proudly, “I extend my sincere congratulations for your exceptional work on several recent milestone operational improvement projects for the California highway system,” he said. “And I am extremely proud to share these accomplishments with all of you.” I thank everyone at LADOT for their partnership and leadership, all of the team members at Caltrans District 7 and Headquarters for their commitment and dedication to these projects.

“It is plain to see that Caltrans has the right people who are doing the work to get the job done at a time when District 7 is going through a phase where there is a higher workload than there has been in history. We are fortunate to be at Caltrans at a time like this. There is a lot of work left to do. It requires a lot of new thinking, a lot of innovation, a lot new strategies and a lot of commitment. And I am extremely delighted to be here to congratulate every one of you who continue Caltrans’ commitment to excellence.”

Note: For more group award photos, please log onto the Photo Gallery.

The Strategic Growth Plan team representing the Office of Traffic Investigations. The Strategic Growth Plan team representing the Office of Traffic Design. The Strategic Growth Plan team representing the Division of Maintenance, Special Crews. The Strategic Growth Plan team from Caltrans' partner, the City of Los Angeles Department of Transportation.