Director Zone - by Douglas R. Failing, Caltrans, District 7 Director
Here it is …the first of July. District 7 closed out the 07/08 fiscal year with fantastic project delivery in a very challenging year.
Once again the team came together Design, Environmental, Construction, Project Management, Planning, Operations, External Affairs, Administration and support staff in all of its many functions.
We never take it easy, and that is good; we should never ease-up. But last year in particular, we worked hard; it was a very busy year with a lot of projects. You should all be proud of yourselves. I am and I hope you are, too. But don’t dwell on it long, because this is going to be a very big year. Ahead of us is another two years of the same. So, keep the momentum.
I-405 Design/Build Project
Fortunately, our State Legislature has trusted us with the first design/ build project in which the State will take a heavy role. This year, we anticipate awarding construction of the I-405 northbound High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane between I-10 and US-101.
It’s a very different design/build project than many of those in the past. This time, Caltrans anticipates having a more strategic role in how the project is developed and how the design/builder works. We will ensure delivery of a good product to the people of California. We anticipate a lot of our own staff engaged to conduct quality assurance and design oversight for the contract. The design/build contract will be administered by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) and Caltrans has design and construction oversight.
A hard-working team has brought this project up to this point. I’m looking forward for District 7 to demonstrate that if design/build is to be done in the State of California, that we here in District 7 know how to make design/build a success.
While recognizing that design/build is a tool that doesn’t work for all projects, it will seldom be used in District 7 because it is not an appropriate solution for a wide range of projects. Almost all projects will continue in the traditional design/ bid/build process, as it is the appropriate method for most of our projects. Occasionally, design/build or innovative design sequencing will be appropriate, and when it does happen, that project will be successful in District 7, too.
In this issue of Inside 7 you will see articles on a lot of people doing good things and being recognized.
Frank Quon has received the Purcell Award bestowed by the California Transportation Foundation (CTF). We celebrated some very innovative projects on Routes 1, 66, 72, 107, 213 and State Route 210 as part of the Governor’s Strategic Growth Plan, led by Traffic Operations with great accomplishment.
District 7 continues to lead in new and different ways to do things. You excel in delivering all projects and at a very reasonable cost – the support cost ratio to capitol cost is on target. Bids are coming in, showing that the contractor has confidence knowing that there are a lot of projects to bid on, knowing what to expect and that there will be no surprises. As a result, they bid competitively.
Recently, a Legislative bill has been introduced to construct a tunnel in the SR-710 corridor.
We expect the contract to be through Metro, and I understand that Caltrans will continue to play a strong role in project delivery, partly because the public is aware and trusts Caltrans’ ability. While the SR-710 tunnel project is controversial, most everyone is comfortable that we know how to do the work and trust us as we go through the process.
We’re still engaged with an on-going technical study, a $10 million contract to get additional underground data to see what a tunnel route might look like and if it is feasible to construct. Additionally, we have a commitment to perform community outreach during the process so that the public understands exactly why we’re considering this project. Obtaining the public’s trust is an important step that must be continued and completed before moving into the environmental phase.
Very soon, we anticipate additional legislation to allow Metro, as our partner, to conduct a congestion pricing demonstration project in Los Angeles. In the June issue of Inside 7, I mentioned Federal funding for our initial focus on the I-10, I-110 and I-210 corridors. As we develop this goal, we need to be skillful and dynamic. There may be a ‘de-focus’ on one of these routes and perhaps an increased emphasis on another. We will work towards the best option to improve congestion in this region.
What we are proposing is very innovative. I know that it can, does and has worked in many places around the country. We know that it will work in Los Angeles. But, many citizens are not familiar with congestion pricing, so Caltrans has a responsibility to help with educational outreach.
Soon, you will be asked to explain congestion pricing to others; what it is, how it helps people, and how it provides congestion relief. I will count on you to understand the proposals. Overall, the greater number of people will see a benefit; for some, it may restrict their choices. This is a demonstration project; we will go over it very slowly as we prepare to implement it in the next two years and we will have a lot of public input.
In anticipation of the Legislature’s approval, in this final step, I will call upon each of you to be emissaries on the issue. I expect you will talk to your family, friends and neighbors and I want you to feel proud to work for Caltrans and comfortable about discussing congestion pricing as a Caltrans representative. This is what builds public confidence and trust in Caltrans.
I look forward to another year of working with you all.