It’s now August and I’m sure we can all agree that it’s been a very interesting summer so far. Certainly it’s been a very hot summer, not only temperature-wise but also with the number of issues going on around us.
We have a revised budget behind us now and, quite frankly, we in transportation have to be pleased with how it’s worked out. We’ve all made sacrifices; the three-day a month furlough certainly hurts. But when you look at what’s happening all over the state -- not just in state government but to people within the state – we have to admit that still having work and still being recognized for the work we do is a reason to be grateful that we came out of this budget process as well as we did. We can continue to do our jobs for the people of California, and that’s what matters.
Now is the time to focus on what needs to be done. We’re putting out a lot of projects here in the district. We’re seeing a large shift of work from the office out to the field, so expect to see more and more construction zones around our road system in addition to the normal activities of Maintenance and other functions.
There are challenges here in Los Angeles. We talked in the past about the dynamic lane project which we hope to open this fall at the northbound
SR-110/northbound I-5 connector. It’s going to be really exciting to put some of these theories into real practice. But we also have many things to figure out, such as how we’re going to keep up with maintenance and how we’re going to be able to support our system so that the public can gain the maximum benefit, because that’s what we’re here for.
And there are going to be changes at Caltrans. Certainly Will Kempton having moved on from the directorship in Sacramento to his new position as head of the Orange County Transportation Authority will be a big change for us. We are fortunate to have a very experienced person coming onboard as director. Randy Iwasaki has been with the Department for as long as I can remember. He’s been in Sacramento as Chief Deputy for a significant period of time. Randy is an exceedingly intelligent person, just as Will was. He is going to be a welcome addition and we look forward to working with him.
As we move out of the summer and into the fall it is important to be aware of the effect all of this is having on us. There is a lot of work to do. And, although we’re covered in the budget, we do have furloughs and that’s having a big impact on the employees. There are a lot of you that are struggling with a 15 percent reduction in pay. Keep a close watch on your budget. Those of you who do have severe financial difficulties may want to talk to your supervisors about getting some help through the Employee Assistance Program (EAP).. They can guide you towards some financial and other counseling where you can get support.
We recently held a nutrition seminar here at the district, which is covered in this issue of Inside 7. There’s a lot that we can do to reduce overall family costs while focusing on nutrition. Be aware of the opportunities to both improve your health and reduce your spending by making better dietary choices.
Speaking of health, Caltrans District 7 will be participating in the American Heart Association’s Heart Walk for the first time this year. That’s coming up on October 3 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. It is free to participate but the organization asks, and we’re asking too, that our team come together to raise a minimum of $100 each by seeking support from family and friends. By participating, we can look forward to something that’s not only helpful to us but is helpful to the rest of the community as well.
It’s time for us to focus not just on ourselves but also on the community we serve. Let’s get the projects done. But be careful when you’re out in the field; it’s very warm and people are driving a little more erradically. We’re seeing more accidents at this time. I want our Maintenance workers to be extra careful when setting up closures. We recently lost a worker up in District 10 and we had another one injured in District 3. So be safe, do your best work and try to improve yourselves every day.