First, I want to say that it’s good to be back. As many of you know, I was out for a couple of weeks during the summer due to some health issues that needed attention. I’ve received excellent medical care and guidance, and I’m feeling much better. I appreciate your kind words and support.
Having recently faced my own health scare, I want to encourage all Caltrans staff to make sure you’re taking good care of yourselves – especially in these difficult times. We’re facing ongoing furloughs; a hiring, promotion and overtime freeze; and a budget impasse with no clear end. This climate of uncertainty is, understandably, a source of stress and can take a toll on your well-being. Caltrans Open Enrollment continues through October 8. Use this opportunity to make sure you have the best health plan for your situation. Also, please don’t hesitate to take advantage of our Employee Assistance Program, which provides confidential, professional help in coping with any issues that are causing you distress. Additionally, the California Bear Credit Union here in the District building may be able to assist you with financial issues.
Eventually, of course, the state budget impasse will end and things will return to normal, but it will be a different normal. We’re never going to do business again as we have in the past. We’re living in a changed world, and the way we function within it will have to change, too. There will be new challenges to face and new opportunities to embrace that will test our adaptability and capacity for innovation.
The Executive Management Team recently had an offsite meeting to discuss areas we need to focus on in this changing climate. One of the most important areas is continuing to be responsive to our customers. That includes developing accurate scopes, schedules and estimates and ensuring transparency in everything we do. We also want to inspire a shared agenda, so that everyone is pulling in the same direction and communicating a consistent message.
Additionally, we want to make sure you feel empowered to act and make decisions in accordance with your expertise. Your talents and experience are our greatest strength and our most valuable asset. (You can read about the achievements of your coworkers and appreciative words from the public in the Employee Recognition column.) I also want to encourage you to challenge familiar processes, and to look for ways to do things more safely, more efficiently, and more cost-effectively.
Despite multiple challenges, District 7 is doing extraordinary things. In September, we broke ground on the San Fernando Valley I-5 HOV Improvement Project. We also participated in the El Monte Station groundbreaking, and hosted public scoping meetings for the exciting High Desert Corridor intiative – all of which you’ll read about in this issue. We’re again demonstrating that we’re a resilient, nimble organization, one that is productive even in tough times and always proud of the work we do.