Contrary to some recent news articles, Caltrans has the largest construction program ($10 billion) we’ve ever had. D7 will be very busy far into the future. We will continue to diligently work to secure stable funding for the transportation infrastructure future of Los Angeles and Ventura counties.
In March, District 7 opened a new lane on the westbound Ronald Reagan Freeway (SR-118) in Simi Valley, groundbreakings were held for two Golden State Freeway (I-5) high occupancy vehicle lanes (HOV) projects in Burbank and the San Fernando Valley, and preparations have begun for a Ventura Freeway (US 101) pavement rehabilitation project in Ventura County. More staff have been mobilized to work on I-5 projects in south Los Angeles County and the Gerald Desmond Bridge project is starting to move forward. Work with our transportation partner, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) continues as we work together on the environmental review and feasibility analysis of different alternatives for the High Desert Corridor and the I-710 Corridor. Obviously, this is a lot of work, but we must be ready.
At Caltrans we have to consider all kinds of disasters that could occur and how they might affect our facilities. With the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan, some may wonder if Caltrans is prepared for natural disasters. California does not have the same faults that could create earthquakes with the same magnitudes or conditions as in Japan. We have emergency procedures to respond to earthquakes that include dispatching staff to inspect bridges and other facilities. Caltrans regularly conducts earthquake drills. Caltrans also participates in the San Onofre Nuclear Generation Station emergency drill, also known as SONGS. A drill was actually done two weeks before the earthquake in Japan. From an earthquake preparedness standpoint, we are as prepared possible. Additionally, this should be a good reminder that we need to be prepared at home. Please maintain your emergency preparedness kit and ensure your emergency notification cards are up to date.
District 7 has been able to accomplish so much this year, but we are still on track to make more changes in light of budget constraints. As part of Caltrans efforts to reduce costs, the district was successful in cutting our cell phones by 50 percent. As part of the Governor’s reduction plans to reduce the numbers of light pick-ups and sedans, home storage permits will be reduced from 1318 vehicles to 1069. As part of an equipment reduction, underutilized vehicles may be trimmed as well. It is important for those with home storage permits to keep a log of when you are called out and why the vehicles are needed after hours. Fortunately, no heavy equipment will be cut from the fleet.
District 7 employees continue time and again to show that they can overcome obstacles. I am confident that we will be able to continue to provide sound transportation solutions.