Inside Seven
Current Issue: September 2014
Directors Zone

My First 100 Days

Issue Date: 06/2010

As I noted in my first column for Inside 7, becoming a Caltrans district director had always been a dream of mine. When I came on board as District 7 director in February, that dream became a reality. Turns out, living a dream requires a lot of hard work, but it’s immensely satisfying, too.

As anyone who has worked in District 7 knows, this is a dynamic, exciting place, one that provides plenty of challenges as well as great opportunities. In these past few months, I’ve had to get up to speed quickly on a tremendous number of pressing issues, and I couldn’t have done it without your help. Thank you for your support, your patience, and your expertise. You’ve made the transition to my new role as smooth as possible. I will continue to depend on you to provide the information I need to make sound decisions.

As I look back over my first 100 days, it’s clear to me that we’re making good progress on important projects. The design/build I-405 Sepulveda Pass Widening Project is proceeding smoothly. (Check out the article on our I-405 team in this issue.) The Metro Board last week unanimously approved a new round of studies for the SR-710 extension. The Carmenita Bridge Interchange Project is moving forward. And we’ve finally resolved longstanding financial issues related to the construction of the Transportation Management Center.

Additionally, we’ve capably handled a number of emergency projects, including stabilizing a hillside in San Dimas after two landslides closed the adjacent connector and repairing severe winter storm damage on Angeles Crest Highway. We also had a successful Workers’ Memorial last month. (More on emergency contracting and Workers’ Memorial in this issue, too.) I want to thank everyone who participated in this event, which is very personal to me. We had a number of fatalities when I worked in Maintenance, and I remain committed to never adding another name to the list of the fallen.

Although we’re making progress and have enjoyed successes on multiple fronts, we’ve faced challenges as well. Caltrans lost its director twice in less than a year. Fortunately, Chief Deputy Director Cindy McKim accepted the position last week, and will provide the leadership and stability the department needs. Additionally, we’re working in an environment of uncertainty, not knowing how the state budget process will play out. As of now, it appears that furloughs will end this month, and we’ll be back to a full work week come July.

As we look ahead to the next 100 days and beyond, I’ll continue to frame our work in terms of a consulting model. We need to be responsive and accountable to our partners, ready to compromise and eager to work toward consensus. We need to ensure that our decisions are fiscally sound and well documented. Most of all, we need to be reliable stewards, giving taxpayers the best product possible for the money they’re investing.

I have full confidence that we’ll continue to do just that. I’ll be counting on your dedication, hard work and expertise to make it happen. We’re a team and we have to work as a team. Together we can not only meet the high standards we’re known for, but exceed them.