District 7 has so much going right now, freeway projects are moving and are in the pipeline, we’ve lost some integral staff, but we are still doing more with less. Below is just a snapshot of my thoughts on a few things going on in one of the busiest districts in Caltrans.
Recently, Deputy District Director of Operations Frank Quon, a 27-year employee of Caltrans has left to work down the street at the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro). Quon will now be one of two Executive Officers in Metro’s Highway Programs. Frank was our brain trust who knew the intricacies of freeway operations very well. Frank will definitely be missed.
Workers Memorial was held on May 6 to recognize and remember Caltrans employees who lost their lives while maintaining, operating, and improving California’s transportation system. I was unable to attend the memorial this year, but I want you to know that my heart goes out to the fallen employees and their families and those who have suffered very serious injuries while working in the field. Many of our employees have experienced traumatizing close calls too. Though, even with all of the risks of road work, many of our employees return to work, to keep our precious system running and they must be commended for this continual effort.
Our maintenance workers are doing a tremendous job trying to keep up with their work given the fact they are challenged with a dwindling amount of workers and resources. They are the frontlines of Caltrans on the daily basis.
Caltrans Bicycle Exhibit and Bike to Work Week
The Everyday Bicycling: Gearing up for Transportation exhibit in the museum is something that I encourage district staff to visit. The exhibit kicked off in coordination with Bike to Work Week to exemplify Caltrans dedication to providing multimodal transportation. Providing more transportation options can help to improve air quality and the environment, decrease congestion, bolster health, and be fun. Additionally, the staff involved in the coordination of items on display must be commended for their efforts to help Caltrans become a welcoming neighbor in the downtown Los Angeles community.
Freeway Construction Work
This year we have already had several ribbon cuttings and groundbreakings. Yes, it is a lot work and it keeps our district very busy, but this is a good thing. We will continue work with Metro as a partner in the capital development program for the several years. Metro has directed several billions of its transportation funds to support transportation improvements in Los Angeles County. Caltrans must continue to be the consultant of choice for Los Angeles County, therefore we must continue to be efficient and diligent in all of the work that we do.
Very soon we will hold a groundbreaking for the I-5 Corridor Projects in south Los Angeles County. Also, we are in the final stages of entering into an agreement with the Port of Long Beach for the construction of a new Gerald Desmond Bridge (that has plans for a bike lane too).
We have an aging infrastructure along with increased usage, but with a decreasing budget. So we must do the best and quickest job we can.
Lastly, we have still have a lot of work ahead of us, but this is nothing new for District 7. We’ve been on the leading edge in transportation for a very long, and that same tradition will continue.