By now most of you have probably read the email I sent out on Thursday, October 1, letting you know that I will be leaving Caltrans at the end of this month and moving to a new position as director of the highway program at the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro).
To all my many friends at Caltrans, I have truly enjoyed the opportunity to lead you.
I’ve recognized that some days leadership took the form of coming up with new ideas, selling them and making them work. But other times, quite frankly, leadership was merely me getting out of the way because you were already headed in the right direction. At those times, the best thing I could do was stand aside or clear some roadblocks that someone else was creating.
You are the best organization in California and I look forward to working with you still in many new and exciting ways from my new position. The innovation that you have advanced in traffic operations, project delivery, maintenance techniques and methods, and setting up and planning how the system’s going to come together is unique, and you need to take great pride in it. I certainly take great pride in what you’ve done and most of you that have had a chance to hear me speak know how much I brag about you.
All of my friends at the Department have my best wishes; I am very much hoping that the State can get through this difficult period quickly. I have been given many opportunities here by Governor Schwarzenegger and previous administrations to do new things. We have been free to conduct our own business because they know that we are capable, responsible and very good at our jobs. I want you to remember that and continue to deserve the admiration the people and government of California have for you. And now we’ll talk about a few other things.
We’re going to be very busy this month. We’re looking at advertising a number of construction projects over the next quarter, including those on I-5, I-710 and I-10. Because there will be increased activity in the field, the first message to all employees is: when you’re out in construction zones or if you’re Maintenance, do your work safely. The most important thing that you can do on each and every work shift is to come home in one piece. You will get the work done but take the time to do it in a safe manor.
Once again, we are still very much sought after for advice on how we do things in Los Angeles. There’s a short story in this issue about a delegation from Thailand that came to visit us. Last month we featured a group from Vietnam who came here to observe our operations and advanced technology. We’re finding that a number of our Executive Staff and others are in demand to demonstrate our techniques to visitors from around the world.
Recently, Los Angeles hosted the 8th annual Mobility 21 conference, which attracted people from all over Southern California. It was great because there were Caltrans representatives on a number of panels. I spoke on a panel for traffic safety. Our headquarters Deputy for Planning, Marty Tuttle, came down and was on a panel as well. Even though Caltrans did not have a lot of people attending because of the tight budget, there were a lot of good discussions: high speed rail, greenhouse gases, mobility, traffic safety, and new technologies…all the things that we need to be conscious of in Los Angeles. Caltrans is being asked to participate in a lot of these panels because we’re on the forefront of innovations in those areas.
Two other items to mention: It wouldn’t have been September without the District’s annual Diversity Day, held on September 30. This is such a remarkable event, and one that showcases the real strength of Caltrans, the diversity of our workforce. I hope you all enjoyed it. I also want to remind you that submissions for “Employee of the Year” were due on October 5. The winners will be announced at the Quality in Caltrans event on October 21.
Finally, I very much appreciate the response throughout the District in support of the employees who lost their homes up at the Chilao Maintenance Station. They’re doing very well for clothing, so they probably don’t need anymore of that. However, they still need major items. So those of you who might have extras beds, televisions, etc. should contact Altadena Maintenance Station Superintendent Ed Toledo at (626)794-6545. Along with the major items, those of you who are in a position to contribute money can do so through the California Transportation Foundation, 581 La Sierra Drive, Sacramento CA 95864. We appreciate what’s been done so far and we still have a ways to go to restore our fellow employees to their pre-fire condition.
Have a good October, work safely and I thank you again for being such a great group of employees. It has been a privilege to be your director.