Tuesday, May 2, 2023
Tony Tavares, Director, California Department of Transportation
Meeting In-Person and via ZOOM
Present: Megan Barajas, Deborah Barmack, Carole Beswick, Bill Blankenship, Rebecca Boydston, Greg Bradbard, Mike Burrows, Rachelle Bussell, Mark Cloud, Josh Cox, Kevin Dyerly, Dr. Sam Gibbs, Louis Goodwin, Otis Greer, T. Milford Harrison, Lowell King, Mike Layne, Bill Lemann, Michael Lewin, Darcy McNaboe, Dan Murphy, Norm Nunez, Vikki Ostermann, Bansree Parikh, Cid Pinedo, Catherine Pritchett, Michael Rivera, Dan Roberts, Dan Schenkel, Kristine Scott, Paul Shimoff, Eric Ustation, Pete Van Helden, Michael Wells, Ray Wolfe, and Frank Zabaleta.
Announcements: 1) The Little Hoover Commission will hold a public hearing on the Effects of the California Environmental Quality Act (Part 4) on Thursday, May 11, 2023, beginning at noon on Zoom. The public is encouraged to listen by joining online. Click the URL to join online: https://bit.ly/44wvKT5 . 2) The 7th annual Making Hope Happen Gala will be held on Thursday, May 11, 2023, from 6-9 p.m. at the Sterling Natural Resource Center. For more information or to purchase tickets please visit www.makinghope.org/Gala2023 3) The 17th annual Southern California Water Conference will be held on Friday, August 11, 2023 from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the Ontario DoubleTree Hotel, 222 N Vineyard Ave. For more information and to register please visit https://www.biabuild.com/water-conference
Kevin Dyerly, Chair presiding.
Motion by L. King/Second/Passed: Minutes from April 25, 2023.
Ray Wolfe introduced Tony Tavares, Director, California Department of Transportation who joined us via Zoom. He was appointed the 34th Director of the Department of Transportation (Caltrans) by Governor Gavin Newsom and sworn in June 2022. Director Tavares manages a nearly $20 billion budget and more than 22,000 employees statewide. His department is responsible for overseeing more than 50,000 lane miles of highway, permitting over 400 public use airports and provides transit support for 200 plus local and regional transit agencies.
Caltrans is an executive department of the state of California and is headquartered in Sacramento. The department is part of the cabinet-level California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA). Caltrans manages the state’s highway system, which includes the California Freeway and Expressway System, supports public transportation systems throughout the state and provides funding and oversight for three state-supported Amtrak intercity rail routes.
They work with regional partners to create a cohesive transportation plan throughout the State. Many impacts have been recognized to communities alongside highway corridors. The department is looking at how to fix past harms and move into the future aware that the state needs to continue to grow in population and the goods movement industry. Our transportation network is vital to ensure our economy is robust and Californians thrive. As California is the fourth largest economy in the world, goods movement is not only important to us but is critical to the rest of the country.
It is not easy to find solutions for transportation issues as they are complex, take many different paths and require many great thinkers to help provide multiple solutions to solve the many issues faced today.
Caltrans has developed plans and the guidelines which are predominantly based on laws that have been passed over the last decade such as SB 743 and Climate Action Plan for Transportation Infrastructure (CAPTI) in order to deliver multi modal transportation networks.
Director Tavares explained that Caltrans has four foundational principles of safety, equity, climate action and economic prosperity.
Safety is a responsibility both the users and the owners of the system share. Since 1921 they have experienced 191 fatalities of Caltrans employees. They are working to have zero fatalities and serious injuries by 2050 and are working with many partners and the community to provide increased awareness. Their “Move Over” campaign includes safety commercials on television that highlight the children of Caltrans workers to humanize them to the public.
As engineers they can easily design what they believe is the best system for people, but it is not until they engage communities, businesses, and partners that they understand what the needs and wants are from the users. This engagement creates equity and helps to guide and drive appropriate transportation solutions.
Caltrans now has equity offices that address numerous issues such as equity in employment and pay, sustainability, and tribal affairs, elevating these topics to the Directors level. Additionally, they address diversion, inclusion and understanding implicit bias. Their Office of Civil Rights works with work force development, small and disadvantaged businesses, ensuring that Caltrans meets specific goals set for California. During the pandemic it became clear that many areas, even in large communities, did not have reliable high speed broadband service for distance learning, telework options and telemedicine. Caltrans has been charged with delivering a 10,000 middle-mile broadband network and they are working with the Department of Technology to deliver this important project.
Climate action is addressed through CAPTI which lays out many strategies and actions that California is moving towards to help reduce emissions and pollutants to increase the health of our people. It also looks at congestion and what we can do differently to move more people through the system as we continue to grow. Studies have shown that 50% of our greenhouse gas emissions come from the transportation sector. They are working with the California Energy Commission to deliver zero-emission infrastructure such as charging stations, which are needed throughout the state. They are also working with many other groups to determine where it would be appropriate to deliver a hydrogen pipeline network to provide additional opportunities for the trucking and freight movement industries.
This past winter has taken a toll on California’s infrastructure which now totals $1B. They will work with their federal partners in D.C. to get reimbursed for these unexpected and expensive repairs.
The $1.2T bi-partisan infrastructure bill passed in 2021 will, for the first time, invest almost equally in rail and public transit ($105B) as it does in roads and bridges ($110B) putting rail & public transit on par with roads and bridges. Close to $42B in formula funding will be coming to California and we are very well poised to compete for additional discretionary funding.
Although Caltrans does not have services for the homeless and relies on cities and counties, they have implemented one or more homelessness coordinators in each of their 12 Districts which they hope will assist the homeless crisis.
A Q & A period followed.
Meeting adjourned at 8:25a.m.