Inside Seven
Current Issue: September 2014
article
Feature

What We’re Thankful For in 2010
by  Kelly Markham
Issue Date: 11/2010

Inside 7 takes a look back at some of the things District 7 can be thankful for this year.

[Click on photos to read captions.]

With Thanksgiving fast approaching, now is the time of year when we eat waaaay too much and take stock of everything we have to be thankful for. Individually, that list may include our families, friends, health, a nice home, even a choice seat on the train or a good Lakers game. Inside 7 decided to consider what we can be thankful for collectively as well – that is, developments in the past year that District 7 can celebrate. Granted, it’s been a challenging year in some respects (furloughs, anyone?), but there’s still much that’s gone well for us. Below is a partial list. We encourage you to send us your additions.

Fresh Leadership: After a months-long search, Mike Miles came on board as District 7’s new director in February. Miles came packing more than 20 years of Caltrans experience and a clear vision for the district, which is no easy feat in the current economic and political climate. Caltrans gained a new director, too. Many employees seized the opportunity meet Director Cindy McKim in person during her visit to District 7 in August.

New Projects: There’s nothing quite like the excitement of breaking ground on a new project. This past year, construction began on several, including the widening of the westbound Ronald Reagan Freeway (SR-118) from Tapo Street to Kuehner Drive in Simi Valley, construction of auxiliary lanes (including widening bridges) on the Harbor Freeway (SR-110) in Downtown Los Angeles, and the Golden State Freeway (I-5) High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane project in the San Fernando Valley from SR-118 to the Hollywood Freeway (SR-170).

Projects Completed: Perhaps the only thing better than starting a project is finishing one! After more than three years in construction, the new Pomona Freeway (SR-60) HOV lanes opened last month, adding HOV lanes in both directions between the San Gabriel River Freeway (I-605) and the Orange Freeway (SR-57). District 7 and its partners also completed the two-year State Route 710 Tunnel Technical Study, which confirmed the geotechnical feasibility of building a tunnel to complete Route 710. And crews quickly wrapped up an emergency hillside stabilization project after two back-to-back landslides closed the westbound San Bernardino Freeway (I-10) connector to northbound SR-57. Thankfully, no one was hurt when the massive pile of dirt landed on the connector.

Talented Staff: If you want to work with immensely talented, highly skilled people, you’re in the right place. One example: Tracy Eugene Armstead, a structural steel painter (and a really good swimmer) who received the Medal of Valor from Governor Schwarzenegger for attempting to rescue a man from drowning. And there are hundreds of others, including the team working on the High Desert Corridor, a bold effort to build a new freeway through the high desert; the folks working on the I-405 Sepulveda Pass Widening project at the Integrated Project Office near Culver City; the construction staff, engineers and geologists who have worked so hard to restore Angeles Crest Highway (SR-2); everyone who has contributed to District 7 reaching an important HOV milestone this year (500 miles and counting!); the crews who tirelessly tackle the difficult and dangerous job of maintaining our freeways; and too many more dedicated people to mention.

Innovation: District 7 is always looking for ways to innovate, to find new solutions to pesky old problems and improve the services we provide. Case in point: District 7’s new “Mobile Mural,” a portable replica of the Galileo, Jupiter and Apollo mural on the northbound Hollywood Freeway (US 101). Others examples include the successful launch of Southern California 511 in June; the Park 101 proposal, a mile-long “cap” over US 101 east of SR-110; the clever “dynamic lane” on northbound SR-110 at the Golden State Freeway (I-5), which turns the number 2 lane into a connector lane during peak hours; and Environmental Planning’s proposed fish passage project at the mouth of Solstice Canyon Creek, which will help steelhead trout swim upstream.

New Tech Tools: True, E-FIS took some getting used to, but love it or hate it, cutting-edge technologies and upgraded software have enabled us to do our jobs even better. The new Earned Value Management (EVM) tool has improved performance and accountability. Public Affairs harnessed the power of Twitter to reach out to stakeholders. And the Microsoft Office 2007 rollout has provided staff with a new, improved suite of office productivity tools. Behold the power of the Ribbon!

Community Interaction: As public servants, we welcome opportunities to reach out to local communities. This past year, we’ve been able to do just that. The end of the Adopt-a-Highway moratorium allowed us to welcome new volunteers to help remove roadside litter. Our Procurement Fair for small businesses and Legislative Workshop were well attended. We also had numerous opportunities to connect with young people through efforts such as Construction Awareness Day, the Los Angeles County Science Fair and Adopt-a-School. Staff who participate in these efforts inevitably report that they gain more than they give.

What else do we have to be thankful for? Maybe the simple satisfaction that stems from doing meaningful work for an agency that impacts the lives of millions of people, in ways we can’t even begin to count.

What are YOU thankful for? We want to know! Send an email to kelly.markham@dot.ca.gov.

 

In March, District 7 broke ground on the widening of the westbound Ronald Reagan Freeway (SR-118) from Tapo Street to Kuehner Drive in Simi Valley. Crews quickly wrapped up an emergency hillside stabilization project after two back-to-back landslides closed the westbound San Bernardino Freeway (I-10) connector to northbound SR-57. Thankfully, no one was hurt when the massive pile of dirt landed on the connector. The clever ''dynamic lane'' on northbound SR-110 at the Golden State Freeway (I-5) turns the number 2 lane into a connector lane during peak hours. Twenty-one District 7 employees volunteered to serve as judges for the 60th Annual Los Angeles County Science and Engineering Fair in April.