November is here and the holiday season is officially upon us. With Thanksgiving right around the corner, now is the time when we consider the things we’re grateful for. One that immediately comes to mind for many of us is that after an impasse lasting more than three months, we finally have a state budget.
The details of the budget deal are still being sorted out, but we’re no longer concerned about having to shut down projects, which comes as a tremendous relief to Caltrans, contractors, their employees and motorists who would have been impacted. True, there are challenges ahead, including continuing furloughs and the repercussions of the economic downturn, but the budget crisis has passed.
We can also be thankful for our huge construction program, which reflects our critical role in building, operating and maintaining the transportation infrastructure in Southern California. In fact, this past month, we had two ribbon-cutting events: one for the Lewis Road Widening Project in the City of Camarillo and the other for the Pomona Freeway High Occupancy Vehicle Lane Project, which you’ll read about in this issue. Thank you to everyone who contributed to the success of these projects.
Additionally, we’re thankful for the diversity of District 7 staff. Having many different perspectives makes us stronger as an organization and better able to respond effectively to the multicultural communities we serve. Our diversity in all its richness was on display last week during Diversity/Disability Awareness Day, encouraging us to appreciate the unique skills and experience each of us brings to our work. (See the Photo Highlight in this issue.)
In considering all that we have to be thankful for, most of us are inclined to remember those who are less fortunate as well – particularly now, when need is magnified by the recession. Thanks to everyone who contributed to the California State Employees Charitable Campaign last month. You’ll have another opportunity to give later this month when we begin our annual Holiday Toy and Food Drive. I hope you’ll be able to contribute to this important effort. Every donation helps. (More on the Toy and Food Drive in the newsletter.)
I also want to remind you that the holiday season is also distracted-driving season. Many motorists are thinking about all they have to do to prepare for the holidays, running innumerable errands. They may not be as attentive as they normally are. If you’re working on the freeway – or just using the freeway – please be extra careful and vigilant about safety.
Finally, I want to wish you a very happy Thanksgiving. Whether you’re having a traditional turkey, glazed ham, Tofurkey or some other inventive meal, may it be shared with the people you care about most, enjoying the warmth of their company.