Hello, District 7. I’m happy to have this opportunity to introduce myself and tell you a little bit about what I hope to accomplish while I’m here.
Los Angeles is an exciting area that presents a real contrast to my home district located in Stockton. It has been helpful to come in with almost three years of being the District 10 director. I have a good understanding of what each division’s responsibility include, know my role as the Acting District 7 Director and was able to hit the ground running.
The biggest difference is – no surprise – traffic, both the amount and type. I grew up in Coalinga, a small town near Fresno with zero traffic signals. Bad traffic for us meant you might have to wait two minutes at a stop sign. In getting to know people in the district I have asked them where they live and subsequently about their commute. The typical response back to me is, “Oh, it’s not bad – 45 minutes to an hour.” I guess it’s all relative. People here have adapted their lifestyles and adjusted to waiting in traffic, which I find interesting.
I’m also getting used to the sheer scale of everything here, including the construction program. We currently have the largest construction program we’ve ever had in District 10 at $750 million. By comparison, just one project in District 7, the Gerald Desmond Bridge, is $1 billion.
But it’s exciting to be a part of all this activity and intensity. I love working in this new, beautiful building among professionals who know their job and do it well. My task over the next four to
six months is to make sure that everything stays on track. I want to keep the momentum, improve partnerships, and ensure that Caltrans gets the recognition it deserves.
While I’m here, a couple of projects particularly interest me: the I-5 Corridor, with its multitude of improvements and issues; and the ARTI P3. District directors throughout the state are looking at how this new funding strategy works and its local applicability given that we all have greater transportation needs than we have funding to implement them.
I want to stress the need for Caltrans employees to be safe and careful wherever you work, be it inside the office or out on the roads! Please be mindful of your surroundings, particularly the field staff who are working in such close proximity to traffic every day. On September 18, we had an incident involving employees along eastbound State Route 60 at Grand Avenue in Diamond Bar. Several people suffered injuries. I would urge you all to share our safety message with family and friends – move over when you can and slow down in maintenance and construction zones.
There are a couple of events that I want to remind you about. The first “don’t miss” occasion is Diversity/Disability Day, which will take place on Tuesday, October 15. This is Caltrans’ opportunity to showcase the strength that comes from a multi-cultural, differently-able workforce. It’s also fun and delicious, so don’t miss out.
Another upcoming opportunity is the annual United Way campaign. Caltrans has a proud history of charitable giving and I know you will all want to support this important effort. Please stay tuned for updates and think about where your donations could do the most good.
That’s it for now. I’ll check in with you in a few months, when there undoubtedly will be even more news and information to share. In the meantime, I plan to take advantage of all that this amazing city has to offer.