Interim Director's Zone with Rick Land
I’m excited to begin 2010 working in District 7. Before starting my permanent Headquarters assignment as the Department’s Chief Engineer, the majority of my Caltrans experience was in Structures, which is centralized in Sacramento. Serving as Interim District Director here in Los Angeles provides me with a valuable opportunity to see things from a different perspective.
When I arrived, it became immediately apparent to me that District 7 is filled with people who are capable, dedicated, and a pleasure to work with. Former District Director Doug Failing used to say that it’s the combined efforts of everyone that has made District 7 such an excellent organization. Although an effective District Director plays a role, it’s really the people behind the Director that make the difference. I couldn’t agree more with his assessment.
Despite the challenges we’ve faced in the current economic climate, District 7 continues to deliver projects on time and within budget. That success is made possible not only by the key people in project delivery, but also by everyone in support services, IT, administrative areas, and those who work in the field.
That point was driven home for me and other members of the executive team during the holiday open houses held last month at the Sylmar Equipment Shop and Bandini Maintenance Yard. I had the privilege of meeting with people who work in construction offices, maintenance facilities, and equipment shops – people who are the face of Caltrans to the traveling public. These men and women are out on the freeways every day, risking their lives so that people can get where they’re going. They do it in rain, snow, and the heat of August, often with traffic speeding by at more than 60 miles per hour.
Already this year they’ve dealt with snow at uncommonly low elevations on the Golden State Freeway (I-5) and the unstable slopes of Angeles Crest Highway (SR-2) following the Station Fire. Forecasters are expecting a wet winter, and I know our crews will handle it with the same dedication, skill and sense of pride they always have.
Meeting with field staff was encouraging and motivating for those of us who strive to make everyone’s work in District 7 as enjoyable and meaningful as possible. It also gave us insight into the issues that matter most to employees, including the impact of furloughs, changes to work schedules, and other concerns related to the state’s budget crisis. I want you to know that I understand the challenges you face, and your concerns will be communicated to Sacramento.
There will be no quick or easy resolution to California’s budget woes, but I know that District 7 will continue its mission undaunted. It’s been heartening to interact with employees in all divisions and to see the satisfaction they derive from their success with District 7’s planning, project delivery, operations and maintenance. As we begin the new year, I want to thank all of you for your hard work and commitment to excellence. I’m looking forward to contributing to District 7’s accomplishments in 2010.