Caltrans News Release
Monday, July 20, 2015
Contact: Caltrans Public Relations Officer Hayden Manning, (619) 688-6670
Transportation Innovator Jacob Dekema Celebrates 100th Birthday
SAN DIEGO –– Jacob “Jake” Dekema, a former Caltrans District Director and one of the true transportation innovators of his generation, will celebrate his 100th birthday this Wednesday.
Mr. Dekema served as Caltrans District Engineer and its first District 11 Director in charge of highway development in San Diego, Imperial, and east Riverside counties from 1955-1980. During that time he directed much of the blueprint for the modern-day transportation system we see today throughout the region. In February 1982, Interstate 805 was officially named the Jacob Dekema Freeway in his honor. He plans to spend his milestone birthday with family and friends at his home in San Diego.
“As daily travelers and visitors throughout the region, we owe a debt of gratitude to Mr. Dekema for his vision, hard work, and dedication to building District 11’s interstate system,” said Caltrans District 11 Director Laurie Berman. “He has been at the forefront of so many transportation changes over the years and we are so happy for him and his family on this special day.”
At the start of his tenure, Mr. Dekema was in charge of just 25 centerline miles of highways, consisting of State Route 395 in Balboa Park (now State Route 163) and portions of State Route 101 in Chula Vista and Oceanside. By 1980, he had built 485 centerline miles of highway to the region.
Mr. Dekema received many honors during his illustrious career, including the American Public Works Association’s “Top 10 Public Works Men of the Year” in 1972 and the Distinguished Civil Engineering Alumni Award from USC in 1973. He’s been listed in Who’s Who and has been presented the keys to many cities, as well as other proclamations and awards. The city of Blythe even has a street named for Mr. Dekema.
Mr. Dekema is joined by the other six remaining Caltrans District 11 Directors and former Senator Wadie Deddeh in an upcoming documentary video spotlighting transportation innovators and milestones for San Diego and Imperial counties. The documentary video is set for release in August.
# # # #