PECG Media Briefing

August 16, 2018

14,000 CalPERS members and their families need to find a new 2019 health plan. Here’s whyModesto Bee
Changes at California’s pension giant will force more than 14,000 CalPERS members and their dependents in the Sacramento region and Bay Area to find a new health plan for next year.


Study claims California’s roads are costing driversABC 10
According to transportation research group TRIP, driving on California’s deficient roadways costs state motorists $61 billion per year in vehicle operating costs from driving on rough roads, time and gas lost due to congestion, and the costs of traffic accidents. Proposition 6, a measure on the November 2018 ballot, would repeal billions of dollars in funding dedicated annually to projects that would address California’s road issues.


10 Signs of California Water ProgressNews Deeply
The extreme weather swings California has experienced recently, from a historic drought to record-breaking rain and snow, may become increasingly commonplace. A study from the University of California, Los Angeles, suggests we will see more of this weather “whiplash” in the years to come. Fortunately, the state has been busy preparing for an uncertain future.


A Deadly Bridge Collapse in Italy Shines Light on California’s Aging BridgesNBC
NBC Bay Area’s Investigative Unit reviewed the Department of Transportation’s 2017 National Bridge Inventory and found there are 13,721 bridges in California 50 years old or older. “I want to emphasize that if a bridge is not safe we shut it down,” Laurie Berman, Director of Caltrans, told the Investigative Unit in an interview earlier this year.


Calif. Pensions Reviewing Investments Tied to Border EnforcementBloomberg
California’s two largest public pensions are reviewing their investments in hedge funds and companies that have ties to the Trump administration’s immigration enforcement efforts at the U.S. Mexico border.

August 13, 2018

California’s Interstate 405 expansion to close bridge for a yearConstruction Dive
The Orange County Transportation Authority announced that it will begin demolition and rebuilding of the McFadden Bridge, the first of an 18-bridge program to accommodate the $2 billion widening of a 16-mile portion of Interstate 405 through Orange County.


Caltech Animation Based on Satellite Data Shows Southern California “Breathing” WaterPasadena Now
Using an unprecedented number of satellite radar images, geophysicists at Caltech have tracked how the ground in Southern California rises and falls as groundwater is pumped in and out of aquifers beneath the surface.


Caltrans defends SB 1 road signs as part of public accountabilitySolano Daily Republic
The state Department of Transportation, under criticism for what some have called “election tampering,” defends putting up signs that tell motorists that Senate Bill 1 funds are being used for those local projects.


Can the EPA Roll Back California’s Clean Air Standards?Capital & Main
The Trump Administration wants to argue that California has no special right to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks. But their case, experts say, is weak.


 After ‘Janus’: Anti-Union Forces Target Representation Structure in New SuitRewire News
A case in federal district court in Minnesota shows that anti-labor forces are already marshaling to further harm public sector unions, mere weeks after the landmark Janus decision.  The next target:  government employee unions’ exclusive representation of workers at the bargaining table.

August 9, 2018

Editorial: From Carr Fire to Big Sur, one takeaway from disaster is how much we need good roads The Sacramento Bee
Global warming is here. Its impact won’t be receding. Ever more volatile weather systems will be sink-holing roads, undermining bridges and sluicing boulder-filled mud down onto critical rail lines and transportation links. That’s something to keep in mind as the Nov. 6 election approaches, with its partisan debate over whether to repeal California’s recent tax increases for roads and transportation.


My Turn: The other side of the pension debateCalMatters
School bus drivers, teachers, police, firefighters, nurses and other public employees are your neighbors, family, and friends. When they retire, they receive pensions they have earned over a lifetime of public service. Public pension haters want to paint a picture of greedy, overpaid public employees, always taking, never giving. They’d have a lot more credibility if they demonstrated some basic knowledge about who gets pensions and how they spend them.


 “Crucial milestone” met at Oroville Dam with structural concrete placementChico Enterprise-Record
Crews have begun to place the final layer of concrete this week on the upper portion of the Oroville Dam spillway chute.


Opinion: Why You Should Care About Unions (Even If You’re Not in One)New York Times
We should all be celebrating that last night voters in Missouri rejected a right-to-work law by a 2-to-1 margin. Why? The average person in the United States has essentially zero power in society. That’s why millions have organized into unions over the years. But the slow decline of unionism in the United States should concern you even if you’re not in one.


 Congressional panel slates hearing on California high-speed rail project – Progressive Railroading
The House Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials is holding a field hearing in Sacramento to review the status of the state’s high-speed rail project.

August 6, 2018

Passing Prop 6 will cost us more than a few extra pennies at the pumpThe Modesto Bee
Can’t wait to vote Yes on Proposition 6 to roll back higher gas taxes? If you do, then you’re going to need a pair of really sharp scissors. That’s because you’re cutting off your nose to spite your face. And your pocketbook.


Commentary | Why gas tax repeal would jeopardize safety San Diego Union-Tribune
California’s poor road conditions play a contributing factor in vehicle collisions. CHP officers and other first responders hear it all the time: “I hit a pothole and blew out a tire.” “I ran into uneven pavement and lost control.”


California Groundwater Law Means Big Changes Above Ground, TooNews Deeply
California’s new groundwater management law is not a sports car. It moves more like a wagon train. The rules do not require critically over drafted aquifers to achieve “sustainability” until 2040. But 22 years from now, once they finally get there, lives will be transformed.


Carpool lanes not ‘efficient’ in reducing traffic, Caltrans says, so it’s pushing toll lanesDaily Post
Carpool lanes don’t attract enough cars to reduce traffic congestion, so Caltrans will likely convert existing lanes to toll lanes on Highway 101 from Mountain View to South San Francisco, a spokesman for the state agency said.


Contractors claim Union Pacific is delaying bullet train projectLos Angeles Times
Contractors building a 31-mile section of the high-speed rail project in the Central Valley have complained that the Union Pacific Railroad is causing delays and significant cost increases. The allegation could lead to a delay claim by the contractor against the state.

August 2, 2018

Public-Employee Union Fees, Water Wars Are Key in High Court Rulings – Engineering News-Record
Officials from unions facing impacts from the Janus case say they have been gearing up for the decision – which eliminated public employees pay a “fair share” fee – and that membership is rising.  “Obviously the Janus decision wasn’t a surprise,” said Ted Toppin, Executive Director of Professional Engineers in California Government. “Our campaign has been built on that PECG delivers.”


Fix California roads without the new gas taxes? Here’s what it would takeThe Sacramento Bee
Whether voters this November approve an initiative to repeal recent increases to California fuel taxes and vehicle registration fees, its proponents are already planning a sequel: a 2020 ballot measure that would ensure fuel taxes, car sales taxes and truck weight fees are spent on transportation projects.  Opponents say it is unrealistic.


Oroville Dam independent review board releases first report – Chico Enterprise Record
An independent review board hired by the state Department of Water Resources Oroville Dam has released its first report with an eye toward improving the facility’s operations.  Among the suggestions: a second gated spillway, improved monitoring, and clear operational planning that takes into account the impact of climate change on the dam’s functions.  (Click here to read the independent report.)


Though underway, $77B California bullet train still threatenedConstruction Dive
The rail’s biggest hurdle, however, could come in the guise of a new governor who could oppose the project and pull the plug. Some onlookers say the reason that the authority is pushing so hard to finish portions of the bullet train line is so that it will be more difficult for the incoming administration to give up on it.

July 30, 2018

Opinion: Why You Need to Vote No on the Gas Tax Repeal SPUR
Transportation advocates and local elected officials had for years tried to get the message across that over two decades without a gas tax increase had created a $130 billion backlog in needed repairs and improvements. It finally worked: SB1 passed in 2017 by more than 67 percent in both the Assembly and the Senate.  The measure that would repeal it, Proposition 6, appears designed specifically to generate greater conservative voter turnout for this fall’s heated congressional races.


State OKs $485M for new Pacheco Reservoir – San Benito Free Lance
The California Water Commission has approved $484.55 million to expand the Pacheco Reservoir for drinking water reserves and improved protections for steelhead salmon.  The money comes from the state’s Proposition 1 approved by California voters, and represents the full amount sought by the Santa Clara Valley Water District.


$30 million roadway project aims to connect Highway 99 with UC Merced – Merced Sun-Star
Money from Senate Bill 1, which dedicates more than $5 billion annually for public transportation and other infrastructure projects, will pay for the construction of a four-lane road includes a concrete overpass over the BNSF railroad line with an exit onto Highway 140.  Officials anticipate it will be finished in 2021.  “This would be a 20 to 30-year plan instead of a three to five-year plan” without SB 1 funding, Merced County Supervisor Lloyd Pareira.  The project, however, is threatened by a November measure that asks voters to repeal SB 1.


Calculations show bullet train can complete route within 2 hours and 40 minutes. Reality may prove slower  Los Angeles Times
When California voters approved construction of a bullet train in 2008, they had a legal promise that passengers would be able to speed from Los Angeles to San Francisco in two hours and 40 minutes.  But over the next decade, the state rail authority made a series of political and financial compromises that slowed speeds on long stretches of the track.  The authority says it can still meet its trip time commitments, though not by much.

July 26, 2018

Open office plans are as bad as you thoughtThe Washington Post
A cubicle-free workplace without private offices is supposed to force employees to collaborate. But a recent study by two researchers offers evidence to support what many people who work in open offices already know: It doesn’t really work that way.


Column: Local Roads May Go From Bad To Worse Without Gas TaxesObserver
Should Californians try to get a great road system without paying for it? Or do we grow up and realize there’s no free lunch? That was the message (in my judgment) delivered earlier this month by Fresno Transportation Authority Executive Director Mike Leonardo to an advisory group focused on local roads.


California Focus: Ballot misinformation on the ‘increase’Sonoma Index-Tribune
When Republican gubernatorial candidate John Cox and other proponents like former San Diego Councilman Carl DeMaio take to their Proposition 6 campaign rally microphones, they almost always shout “Repeal the gas tax.” Only rarely do they include that extra word “increase.”


California drought legacy: State approves $2.5 billion to build new dams, water storage projectsThe Mercury News
In a historic vote, the Administration of Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday approved spending $2.5 billion to help fund construction of four new dams and four underground storage projects — including two in the Bay Area.


Water still top enviro issue; Californians willing to pay more for gas; motor voter registers 250,000 moreThe Sacramento Bee
An initiative calling for voters to repeal California’s gas tax, Proposition 6 is gaining much attention heading into November.  Although a new statewide poll by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) did not ask about Prop 6 specifically, it did provide findings that suggest voters are willing to pay more for gas to protect the environment. “People have factored in higher gasoline prices to the state’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and you have high levels of support,” PPIC’s Mark Baldassare said.

July 23, 2018

Grand Bayway design far-reaching, budget-busting — Argus Courier
A massive, two-decade, $1 billion project to widen Highway 101 through Sonoma County is wrapping up now that officials have secured funding for the last piece of the project in Petaluma. Transportation officials are now beginning in earnest to turn their attention to the next big regional infrastructure challenge: a redesign of Highway 37.


Interior Secretary Zinke visits reservoirs, signaling federal interest in California water fight The Modesto Bee
The visit from a high-level official in the Trump administration raised hopes from local farmers and irrigation districts that federal intervention will stop a state Water Board proposal to allocate more water from New Melones and Don Pedro reservoirs to restore the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.

July 19, 2018

Living with Janus, unions adaptCapitol Weekly
Despite the U.S. Supreme Court’s split decision dealing a significant blow to public unions, California union leaders remain optimistic about their ability to stay viable. Ted Toppin, the Executive Director for the Professional Engineers in California Government, has faith in the organization’s ability to retain members. “You have to have collective action against employers, corporations, state governments and local governments,” Toppin said. “If you don’t have somebody defending you collectively and individually, you have little chance of getting a fair shake.”


 Why a California department almost laid off 22 state workers it just hiredThe Sacramento Bee
The 22 state engineers who received scary notices last month indicating they might be fired because their employer made a mistake in how it hired them can finally rest easy. All of them can keep their jobs, according to the state Human Resources Department. The safety engineers themselves did not do anything wrong in answering those questions when they applied for jobs at the Department of Industrial Relations. That’s why the state backed off its initial move to dismiss them less than a year after it hired them. “We put two attorneys on it and started asking questions because that’s what we do in a situation like this,” said Jon Ortiz, Research Director for their union, Professional Engineers in California Government. “And then we heard that the folks’ jobs were going to be saved.”


California’s scenic Highway 1 fully reopened for the first time in more than a yearLos Angeles Times
On Wednesday at 9:45 a.m., Caltrans reopened Highway 1 at Mud Creek — the first time in more than a year the coastal route was fully open. Caltrans has spent $54 million to repair the road bed and reconstruct a quarter-mile stretch of new pavement.


 Jerry Brown to Supreme Court: Hurry up and hear my pension law caseThe Sacramento Bee
Before he leaves Office, Gov. Jerry Brown wants the State Supreme Court to resolve a lawsuit that could empower his successor to reduce or alter pension benefits for California public employees. Technically, the lawsuit seeks to undo only a small part of Brown’s Public Employee Pension Reform Act that prevents public employees from buying service time that is credited to their pensions. But both sides acknowledge the stakes are much higher.


 Delta tunnels get ‘real’ as backers seek $1.6B loan from Trump administrationThe Sacramento Bee
Critical permits and legal challenges are still pending, and some farming groups still haven’t committed to paying for part of Gov. Jerry Brown’s controversial $17 billion Delta tunnels project. But even with the uncertainty, backers of the project are poised to ask the Trump Administration for a $1.6 billion federal loan.

July 17, 2018

Why California business leaders are fighting to save the SB 1 gas tax increase. — The Sacramento Bee
It’s not often the California Chamber of Commerce endorses a tax increase. But when Gov. Jerry Brown and Democratic lawmakers last year passed a measure raising fees on transportation fuels and vehicle registration to pay for road repairs, it was because CalChamber, and the larger California business community, helped push it across the finish line.  “The economy depends on people being able to get to work in their cars and buses and being able to move goods,” said Allan Zaremberg, president and chief executive officer of CalChamber.


Oroville Dam: A tour of two spillways, phase two The Mercury News
Phase two of construction on the Oroville Dam’s main and emergency spillways is speeding along, as the Oroville Mercury-Register got to see up close in a tour on Wednesday guided by state Department of Water Resources officials.


Gubernatorial candidate Cox was major donor of gas tax repeal — San Diego Reader
It’s well-known that San Diego radio host and former city councilman Carl DeMaio rallied Californians to gather signatures for the gas tax repeal. Not as well known is that California candidate for governor and Rancho Santa Fe resident John Cox was a major donor to the effort. He has a history of fronting unusual ballot ideas: One would have replaced the state Legislature with 12,000 “neighborhood legislators.”  Another would have given California lawmakers and statewide officeholders a new dress code requiring they wear vests with patches from their ten biggest donors, similar to what NASCAR drivers wear.

July 12, 2018

What happens to California road repairs if voters repeal the gas tax increase? –Sacramento Bee
A November ballot measure to repeal California’s recent gas tax increase threatens road improvement and maintenance projects that receive funding through the tax.


 The Bill for the Ballot Battle Over California Gas Tax Might Reach $75 MillionNew York Magazine
As one can tell from the frantic road repairs under way all over the state right, there are a lot of voters, and a lot of pro-construction interests (including the local governments who are sharing in the revenues), that are benefiting from the gas tax increase. These benefits will not be given up without a vigorous and expensive fight.


Local oversight group established for Oroville DamChico Enterprise Record
A local oversight committee will get to have a say as long-term changes are considered for the Oroville Dam, after Sen. Jim Nielsen and Assemblyman James Gallagher recently came to an agreement with the state Department of Water Resources. The oversight group will meet with DWR and the board for the first time next week and the dam evaluation will be complete in December 2019.


Southern California water agency agrees to spend $11 billion on Delta tunnels – againThe Sacramento Bee
Southern California’s powerful water agency reaffirmed its commitment to the Delta tunnels project Tuesday, agreeing for a second time to spend nearly $11 billion on a majority stake in the twin tunnels. The board took a second vote after environmentalists and an open-government group charged that Metropolitan directors violated the Brown Act before they took their April vote.

July 9, 2018

After ‘Janus’: Labor’s Recommitment Campaigns Energize the Rank and File – Capital and Main
Anti-union forces are launching digital and door-to-door “drop your membership” campaigns targeting California’s government workers. Yet unions have been preparing for several years to combat those efforts and more that are coming — a response from organized labor that represents a paradigm shift that could transform public-sector organizing in the post-Janus world.


California isn’t the only state hiking gas taxes – Orange County Register
Just so you know, California isn’t the only state raising gasoline taxes. As 2018’s second half starts, seven states face just-raised taxes on fuel, and 27 states nationwide have increased gasoline taxes in the past five years. Missouri could become No. 28: A gas-tax hike is on their November ballot.


Billions of dollars at stake for transportation in California gas tax repeal effort – Santa Rosa Press Democrat    

For Gov. Jerry Brown, who finishes his last term in January, the fight is for the future of one of his chief accomplishments — a funding stream to help modernize California’s aging transportation network. Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, the Democrat running to succeed him, opposes the repeal because it would defund safety upgrades to the state’s transportation infrastructure. Local government officials say a repeal would be “disastrous.”


Fresh Proof That Strong Unions Help Reduce Income Inequality – The New York Times
New evidence shows that unions played a major role in reducing income inequality in the United States in the decades when organized labor was strong.

July 5, 2018

After ‘wake-up call’ from Supreme Court, California unions face tough political choices – The Sacramento Bee
Union leaders say they have positioned themselves well to withstand the Janus v. AFSCME ruling, which bans charging nonmembers for the costs of collective bargaining and related activities. But facing potentially dramatic impacts in the years ahead if membership declines, and with it less revenue from dues, unions are also revamping their operations for the 2018 election cycle and beyond. “We have to be smarter with our money than we’ve ever been before,” said Steve Smith, communications director for the California Labor Federation, a union umbrella group.


Meet the New Entity in Charge of California’s Water Tunnels ProjectNews Deeply
Joint powers authorities, or JPAs, are common in California for various municipal purposes, but there’s never been one  like the Delta Conveyance Design and Construction Authority that was formed at a meeting in Sacramento earlier this year.  Here’s how it will work.


‘This is their Hail Mary’: California GOP bets on gas tax repealPolitico
California Republicans are banking on a ballot measure that terminates billions of dollars dedicated to infrastructure improvements and repairs will stave off a Democratic wave in November and perhaps even spark a GOP revival in the run-up to 2020.


Hwy 1 to be fully open through Big Sur in two weeks – KSBY
Highway 1 at Mud Creek will reopen by 11 a.m. on July 20, 2018, Caltrans confirmed on Tuesday. The scenic ocean drive has been closed since a massive landslide wiped out the roadway a little more than one year ago.

July 2, 2018

Koch Brothers-Linked Group Declares New War on Unions. — Bloomberg
The conservative nonprofit Freedom Foundation, long tied to Republican billionaires opposed to labor unions, said that starting Wednesday it will deploy 80 people to California, Oregon and its home state of Washington. The canvassers were hired in March and trained this month, according to internal documents reviewed by Bloomberg News. The goal of the multi-pronged campaign is to shrink union ranks in the three states by 127,000 members—and to offer an example for similar efforts targeting unions around the country.


SLO County could lose millions for road upgrades if voters repeal SB 1 — SLO Tribune
San Luis Obispo County stands to lose millions of dollars in transportation funding if voters approve a referendum repealing a statewide gas tax, which recently qualified for the November ballot.


Oroville Dam: Senate passes bill to require independent risk analysis The Mercury News
The U.S. Senate last week passed the 2019 Energy and Water Development appropriations bill, which requires an independent risk analysis of Oroville Dam.

June 28, 2018

Court case will cost California unions big money immediately. Then the real fight begins. — The Sacramento Bee
… Ted Toppin, Executive Director for the union that represents state engineers, said labor organizations going forward will have to make a case that they deliver for their members. The Professional Engineers in California Government “has a strong and healthy membership, and we’re going to do everything we can to bring that small percentage of (fair share payers) into the membership because PECG has delivered for them.”


California ballot will include gas tax repeal in November Los Angeles Times
Californians will vote in November on a ballot proposition that would repeal a new gas tax and vehicle fees, saddling Gov. Jerry Brown with a final challenge to preserve a key part of his legacy before leaving office. … Brown on Monday blasted the initiative and gave a preview of his campaign strategy. “This flawed and dangerous measure pushed by Trump’s Washington allies jeopardizes the safety of millions of Californians by stopping local communities from fixing their crumbling roads and bridges. Just say no,” Brown said in a statement.


Exam Error May Cost Some State Workers Their Jobs — CBS 13 Sacramento
A technicality on a civil service exam may cause big problems for 22 Cal-OSHA safety inspectors who over the last year have conducted hundreds of investigations in cities across California.


‘Female-dominated’ jobs erased in California state government The Sacramento Bee
Heading into his last months in office, Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration worked up a few edits to state law that could make it easier for public employees to earn promotions and help disabled state workers retain their jobs.


Labor Unions Will Be Smaller After Supreme Court Decision, but Maybe Not Weaker  — New York Times
… the more interesting question is whether the unions, whatever the blow to their ranks and finances, will be substantially weaker. Union leaders insist that they won’t — that the crisis posed by the case, Janus v. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, has brought more cohesion and energy to their ranks.

June 25, 2018

What you need to know about California’s road-funding repeal initiative Sacramento Bee
A Q&A about who is behind the effort to kill Senate Bill 1 and what will happen should they succeed.


California commission rejects plan to replace natural gas pipelineAssociated Press
The California Public Utilities Commission rejected San Diego Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison’s $639 million plan to build a 47-mile natural gas pipeline. The commission said the project is not needed and instead ordered testing on an existing pipeline to ensure its safety.


VIDEO: Fly over the Oroville Dam spillway and Lake Oroville area Sacramento Bee
The latest video images from the tallest dam in the nation after more than a year of repairs and upgrades.


Bigger Than Potholes: Why Fixing America’s Infrastructure Should Be a Priority – Wharton
Wharton finance professor Robert Inman makes compelling arguments for why state, local and national government officials need to make transportation infrastructure a priority – and why public financing through taxes is the best way to pay for it.

June 21, 2018

Bay Area: What happens if the gas tax is repealed?Mercury New
From Oakland to San Jose, pavement crews are already at work repairing roads and tackling long-deferred maintenance. All the work is partially funded by Senate Bill 1, but now, with polling showing more than half of California voters would repeal those taxes and fees, it’s looking more likely that many of the newly funded projects are at risk of being delayed or eliminated.


Group calls Caltrans freeway signs political adsABC10 / KGTV
Government transparency, or a sign with a subtle political agenda? Department of Transportation officials say the former. Those trying to repeal Senate Bill 1 contend the latter. The subject of the debate: new Caltrans signs popping up along San Diego’s freeways near projects funded by SB 1.


Should Jerry Brown’s Delta Tunnels be immune from judicial review? OC water district votesRed, Green and Blue

The Municipal Water District of Orange County Public Affairs & Legislation Committee voted 3 to 0 Monday to support a resolution backing a rider banning the judicial review of lawsuits against the  Delta Tunnels project. The resolution will go before the District’s Board of Directors today.


Authorities investigate viral video of boulder causing slope damage at Emerald BayNews 4

The Tahoe Planning Agency and Caltrans are investigating a Facebook video that appears to show a highway contractor allowing a boulder to roll down a slope and cause environmental damage at Emerald Bay near South Lake Tahoe.


Three Caltrans Projects honored in national transportation competitionLake County News
Three Caltrans projects received top honors this week from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. The 11th annual America’s Transportation Awards competition recognizes transportation projects in three categories: Quality of Life/Community Development, Best Use of Technology and Innovation and Operations Excellence.

June 18, 2018

DWR raising standards, adding staff in response to Oroville Dam spillway reportChico Enterprise Record
The state Department of Water Resources has beefed up its response to the independent forensic report on what caused the Oroville Dam spillway failure last year. A revised dam safety policy, which will “further define roles and responsibilities” of the executive-level engineer, the chief dam safety engineer and other related State Water Project divisions, should be released by the end of the year.


Senators insist on judicial review of California water tunnels project E&E News
California’s two Democratic senators have committed themselves to opposing a controversial House provision that would block judicial review of the state’s WaterFix tunnel project. While backstage discussions have occurred, opponents of the $17 billion tunnel project recognize the judicial review ban is all but certain to pass the House as part of a fiscal 2019 Interior and EPA appropriations bill.


With new bridge toll, Hwy. 101 project fully fundedArgus Courier
Money from the $4.5 billion measure is earmarked for Bay Area transportation projects including $120 million to widen Highway 101 from the Sonoma-Marin county line to Novato and $100 million to improve Highway 37, although officials are unclear on those projects’ timelines.


Audi CEO Arrested in Diesel Emissions Scandal – Washington Post
The Chief Executive of Audi, the luxury automaker owned by Volkswagen, was arrested Monday on suspicion of fraud in relation to the German car maker’s emissions-cheating scandal.

June 14, 2018

California eyes July for reopening iconic Highway 1 stretchThe Associated Press
California transportation officials have targeted July for reopening an iconic stretch of Highway 1 in the scenic Big Sur coastal region that was blocked last year by a massive landslide. The road that connects Los Angeles to San Francisco was projected to open in mid-September but the California Department of Transportation announced Tuesday it will open to all travelers by the end of July.


Butte DA’s suit against DWR moves forwardEnterprise Record

A lawsuit filed by Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey against the state Department of Water Resources over environmental damages resulting from the Oroville Dam spillway crisis is moving forward in court. Butte County Superior Court Judge Stephen Benson overruled DWR’s demurrer, which is essentially a plea to have a case dismissed.


Dozens of Water Systems Consolidate in California’s Farming HeartlandNews Deeply

In California’s San Joaquin Valley, one of the most productive farming regions in the nation, an estimated 150,000 people are stuck living with contaminated drinking water. When they open a tap to fill a cooking pot or take a shower, the water that gushes out is contaminated with nitrates, hexavalent chromium, arsenic and other nasties from polluted wells.


 With all eyes on Janus, a similar case in California meets quiet defeat — for nowLA School Report
The case dismissed Monday, Bain v. California Teachers Association, raises similar but distinct legal challenges as the Janus case. While Janus is focused on teachers who opt out of unions but are forced to pay agency fees, Bain dealt with teachers who wanted to remain union members but didn’t want to pay to support their union’s political efforts.

June 11, 2018

California drinking water tax dies in budget compromise – The Sacramento Bee

Lawmakers and Brown’s office scrapped the “Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Act,” which would have taxed residents 95 cents a month to raise millions for cleaning toxic wells. Instead, legislative leaders agreed to spend $5 million from the general fund to deal with lead in drinking water at child care centers. They also plan to allocate $23.5 million from the general fund for “safe drinking water actions later in this legislative session.”


California bullet train authority ordered part of a flawed bridge torn downLos Angeles Times

Engineers have built about 24,000 bridges in California over the last century, but a new one under construction in Madera County for the state’s bullet train project shows that they can still lead to serious blunders. In a statement, the authority said the Avenue 8 bridge design did not meet its “level of quality for a work product” and showed “signs of distress.”


Bridge toll hike is ‘first step’ in solving Bay Area’s traffic woes, experts sayThe Mercury News

Voters in the Bay Area have agreed to raise bridge tolls by $3 over the next six years, but that’s just the first step in what they’ll likely be asked to pay as business leaders and transportation planners sketch out a fresh series of new measures to solve the area’s traffic gridlock.


Why Southern California is calling for a do-over on its vote to bankroll the Delta tunnelsThe Sacramento Bee

A historic vote on the Delta tunnels project is getting a do-over. Southern California’s powerful water agency — the Metropolitan Water District — said Thursday its board will vote again in July on whether to pay for the lion’s share of the project, known officially as California WaterFix.

June 7, 2018

Sexual harassment in state workforce would get new scrutiny from Brown proposal –The Sacramento Bee
Gov. Jerry Brown’s final budget includes a down payment on a program intended to prevent state workers accused of sexual harassment from moving from job to job within the government.


‘Janus’ and Its Supreme Court Enablers – Capital & Main
The stacking of the U.S. Supreme Court with anti-union justices has allowed the right-to-work movement to circumvent, and undercut, pro-union state policies.


Caltrans Plans to Reopen Highway 1 by Mid-September – Construction Equipment Guide
Caltrans plans a mid-September reopening of a stretch of Highway 1 near Big Sur that has been blocked nearly a year by a huge landslide following strong winter storms in 2017.


Voters favor Bay Area bridge toll hikes for transit upgradesPress Democrat
Voters in the Bay Area’s nine counties appeared to show support for a proposal to use bridge toll hikes to raise $4.45 billion and fund infrastructure projects across the region. Regional Measure 3 was favored with 54 percent of the vote throughout the region, according to election results posted Wednesday.

June 4, 2018

State considers tackling highway bottlenecks in Yolo and Solano counties with new lane project paid with peak-use tolls  – The Sacramento Bee
State highway officials are discussing a 16-mile widening of Interstate 80 through Yolo and Solano counties – and financing the project with tolls collected during hours of heaviest use.


Gavin Newsom warns of threats to unions at campaign stop in OaklandMercury News
Public-sector unions are facing an existential threat and need stronger support from elected officials, candidate for governor Gavin Newsom argued at a firefighter union’s block party Saturday, three days before the primary election.


360,000 Californians have unsafe drinking water. Are you one of them?The Sacramento Bee
The state’s water problem, however, is far more pervasive than that number indicates. At least 6 million Californians are served by water providers that have been in violation of state standards at some point since 2012, according to McClatchy’s analysis. In some areas, contaminated water is such a common occurrence; residents have almost come to expect it.

May 31, 2018

Voters hold key to complete Highway 101 widening through Sonoma-Marin NarrowsPetaluma Argus-Courier
For more than 20 years, crews have worked to expand a congested stretch of Highway 101 between Sonoma and Marin counties. Motorist have one shared question: When will the roadway expansion between Petaluma and Novato be finished?  The answer depends on a few financial and political factors, including what looks to be a looming fight at the ballot box over the future of California’s new gas tax to support transportation upgrades.


Jerry Brown has weak argument for ‘large’ prison guard raises, analyst says – The Sacramento Bee
The Legislative Analyst’s Office assessment of the Bargaining Unit 6 tentative agreement concludes that there is “no evidence of recruitment or retention issues to justify” the one-year, 5 percent general salary increase.  (Click here for the LAO’s take.)


Newsom, Cox, likely to advance in California governor’s race, poll says Sacramento Bee
A new poll shows San Diego Republican John Cox holds a seven-point advantage for second place among likely voters in the governor’s election Tuesday, signaling that voters prefer him and Democratic Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom to face off in the November general election.

May 29, 2018

California Sued Over Delta Tunnels Project Changes Courthouse News
Environmental organizations sued the California agency in charge of managing the massive WaterFix project Friday, saying the state illegally altered the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta management plan to favor the project over ecological restoration.


Battle over gas-tax hike intensifies – CalMatters
The attempt to repeal SB 1 via a statewide vote is not only an important issue unto itself, but it is intertwined with larger conflicts, including the nationwide jousting over control of Congress. As the stakes rise, the campaign to counter the GOP-backed repeal ballot measure also is shifting into high gear. Gov. Jerry Brown is leading the charge.


Voters like high-speed rail, if they don’t have to pay for it – Los Angeles Times
A new poll of 835 voters found that respondents were pretty equally divided over the high-speed rail line, with 48% expressing at least some support and 43% opposed.

May 24, 2018

Independent governance eyed for State Water Project  –  Capitol Weekly
A measure in the Legislature, AB 3045, would create a new State Water Project Commission under the state’s Natural Resources Agency to run the project. DWR, which was created in 1956 to manage planning, construction and operation of the 700-mile-long water delivery system, would no longer control it.


This California agency has so many new employees that it’s installing smaller cubicles  The Sacramento Bee
Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration found a solution that will sound familiar to any longtime traveler squeezing his knees into tight airplane seats: His agency wants to slash the size of standard cubicles in the EPA headquarters.


VIDEO: Explosions, repaving part of on-time Phase 2 reconstruction of Oroville Dam spillways – KCRA

The California Department of Water Resources said it is on track to meet the Nov. 1 deadline for its second phase of construction on the Oroville Dam. Crews have conducted controlled blasts to remove temporary concrete on the primary spillway. Concrete is also being poured on the emergency spillway.


A Washington bomb set to go off in California’s delta tunnels water war – The Los Angeles Times
Rep. Ken Calvert inserted a rider into an Interior Department appropriations bill that would exempt the so-called California WaterFix project from all judicial review. If passed by the House (likely) and Senate (possible) and signed by President Trump (probable), the rider would open a gaping hole in California and federal law.


Majority of Americans say Trump needs to give infrastructure more attention – The Hill
More than half of Americans say the president is not giving infrastructure adequate attention, according to a Monmouth University poll released Tuesday. The poll also found that a majority of Americans, 62 percent, say the federal government is not spending enough dollars on infrastructure projects.  (Click here to see the survey questions.)

May 21, 2018

On his way out, Gov. Jerry Brown offers prison guards a big raise  – The Sacramento Bee
The one-year tentative agreement with CCPOA gives a 5 percent across-the-board salary increase to Unit 6 employees on July 1, 2019. It would expire the following day.


Video: A year after Highway 1 landslide, work on new road continues 24/7 – KSBY
Sunday marked one year since a massive landslide wiped out a portion of Highway 1, closing the iconic road to traffic north of San Luis Obispo County. Here’s a progress report on the road-replacement project.


Letter: Prop. 69 ensures funds go where rubber meets the road – The Mercury News
The agency is looking to hire for maintenance, administration, operations, engineering and more. Caltrans says it’s experiencing a workload increase due to the passage of SB 1.


Blue states strike first against awaited anti-union court ruling  – Politico
Blue state lawmakers are waging a preemptive strike against an anticipated U.S. Supreme Court decision that could decimate the power of public-sector unions across the nation. The play by these states is pretty simple: Beef up public-employee union’s ability to recruit and retain members in an effort to counteract the chunk of revenue loss these unions expect.

May 17, 2018

Ending ‘fair share’ fees will cost state workers $2,000 a year, study says The Sacramento Bee
A new study by the Illinois Economic Policy Institute predicts that a Supreme Court decision forbidding public sector unions from collecting so-called fair share fees will drive down public sector union membership in California by about 9 percent and cost public employees $2,079 a year in income.


 Auto mileage and emissions: Will Washington and California be negotiating? – CALmatters
The standoff between California and the Trump Administration over automobile emissions standards continued this week, despite reports that the president ordered two federal agencies to begin negotiating with the state. No one from the Administration has yet contacted the California Air Resources Board, which regulates automobile emissions.


Help Wanted: Caltrans Seeing Workload Increase After SB-1 – CBS Sacramento
The agency is looking to hire for maintenance, administration, operations, engineering and more. Caltrans says it’s experiencing a workload increase due to the passage of SB 1.


The bullet train is California’s biggest infrastructure project — but it’s seldom discussed in governor’s race – Los Angeles Times
It’s the biggest infrastructure project in state history, but the California bullet train gets hardly any attention on the campaign trail. The leading candidates for governor have said little, if anything, publicly about how they would fix dire problems in the $77-billion mega-project that has already overrun its initial cost estimate by $44 billion.

California High-Speed Rail Board Approves 2018 Business PlanCBS
The board tasked with overseeing California’s ambitious high-speed rail project approved a new business plan Tuesday and pledged to keep pushing forward even as the plan faces stark financial challenges.

 

A ban on Delta tunnels lawsuits slips into federal spending planThe Sacramento Bee
With the California Delta tunnels proposal facing an uncertain future, a California congressmen has come up with a way to help the multibillion water project reach completion: ban environmental lawsuits.

May 14, 2018

Caltrans Accelerates Repairs on State Route 1 in Santa Barbara County Due to SB 1 Funds – Santa Barbara Independent
Caltrans will repave more than 40 lane miles of State Route 1 from the Las Cruces Interchange (U.S. Highway 101 Separation) to south of the State Route 246 Junction in Santa Barbara County due to the funds from Senate Bill 1. SB 1 funds will enable Caltrans to fix more than 17,000 lane miles of pavement, 500 bridges and 55,000 culverts by 2027.


Brown Faces California Budget Fight As Surplus Grows –  KPBS/Associated Press
California Gov. Jerry Brown faces a bruising fight with the Legislature over funding for welfare, health care and higher education after producing a revised budget proposal that shows a lot more money but not a lot more spending..


California’s Brown Says Cities on Their Own as Pension Tab Rises – Bloomberg
As California’s cities flounder under the rising cost of public pensions, they shouldn’t expect the state to extend a hand. While Governor Jerry Brown noted in his revised budget Friday that local governments face “even greater pressures” than the state in dealing with the expense, he said it’s not up to the state to help


Musk says underground tunnel to offer free rides soon –  Los Angeles Times
Angelinos may be able to hitch a ride through town on Elon Musk’s first underground tunnel in just a few months — at least for a very short distance.

May 10, 2018

Brown’s Delta tunnels get $650 million boost from Bay Area water agency – The Sacramento Bee
A Bay Area water agency agreed Tuesday to pump $650 million into Gov. Jerry Brown’s Delta tunnels project, providing a meaningful boost for the controversial $16.7 billion plan. The 4-3 vote by the Santa Clara Valley Water District brings the tunnels project, which would overhaul the troubled heart of California’s aging water delivery network, a step closer to being fully funded.


Senators unveil bipartisan water infrastructure bill – The Hill
California’s worker-centered A bipartisan group of senators unveiled a water resources and infrastructure bill on Tuesday that aims to localize the budget for the Army Corps of Engineers. Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, introduced the America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 along with Sen. Tom Carper (Del.).


Huckabee Sanders: ‘I don’t know’ if infrastructure bill will happen this year – The Hill
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Wednesday that she isn’t sure there will be an infrastructure bill this year, dealing another blow to lawmakers clamoring for a sweeping infrastructure package.


Sen. Josh Newman in fight for his political life over vote to raise California’s gas tax – Los Angeles Times
A week after voting with fellow Democrats to raise California’s gas tax, state Sen. Josh Newman found out the GOP had targeted him through a news alert on his phone.  Now the Fullerton Democrat is engaged in the political fight of his career.


California’s would-be governors play it safe in the last real debate before June’s primary – Los Angeles Times
Four Democrats and two Republicans fielded questions including how to solve California’s crisis of homelessness, their views on healthcare and dealing with the high cost of a college education. They were quizzed about the role that character plays in elected office. They were asked to name a sacrifice they had made in their lives. And yes, they were asked about California’s future in the era of President Trump.

May 7, 2018

In his bid to be California’s next governor, John Chiang touts his battles with a previous one – Los Angeles Times
A retelling of  the former State Controller’s fights with former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger over putting state employees on minimum wage and enacting furloughs – and how the bouts endeared Chiang to labor. Story features quotes from former PECG Executive Director Bruce Blanning.


Op-ed: California’s most powerful voice on Wall Street? Its pensions – Los Angeles Times
California’s worker-centered pensions have played an extraordinarily important role as investors over the last 20 years. Moves to dismantle these pension systems could surrender the state’s market power at exactly the wrong time, when it needs it most.


These Sacramento area water storage projects just got a boost in state bond money – The Sacramento Bee
Two water-storage projects in the Sacramento region are closer to becoming a reality after getting another bump in state bond funding. The California Water Commission announced Friday that the Sites Reservoir project was eligible for $1 billion in Proposition 1 funds, up from $933 million the commission had said it might receive last month.


Senator Dianne Feinstein to Secretary Chao: Release Funding for California Infrastructure Projects – Sierra Sun Times
Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) on Monday called on Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao to release funding for infrastructure projects in California and end delays implementing the Capital Investment Grants program.

May 3, 2018

Gas tax critics turn in signatures for California initiative, efforts mark Republican strategy – KTVU
The signatures were submitted days after California transportation officials pre-emptively fought back, announcing billions of dollars in mass transit improvements funded in part by the tax hikes. It sets up an election showdown over the condition of California’s roads and its high gas prices.


Did Gov. Brown promise the Bay Area a new reservoir in exchange for Delta tunnels support? – The Sacramento Bee
The timing of Wednesday’s vote — so soon after the Water Commission’s favorable score for Pacheco Pass — has foes of the Delta tunnels project alleging Brown’s office worked behind the scenes to deliver a quid pro quo: funding for a new reservoir in exchange for Santa Clara’s full support for the tunnels.


Measure X, SB1 contribute to a Monterey County transportation infrastructure boom – Monterey Herald
With a combination of Measure X and state Senate Bill 1, a gas tax and bump in vehicle licensing fees meant to boost transportation infrastructure, Monterey County will be making use of around $4.5 billion of the money allocated in the regional plan.


State commission recommends $311 million for transportation improvements – Fox 5 San Diego
The San Diego Association of Governments later this month will divvy up $311 million in SB1 funding for local transportation projects that include adding carpool lanes, improving rail lines, and building biking and walking paths.


New proposed east-west rail project unveiled by Humboldt Bay working group – Times-Standard News
Pacific Charter Financial, based in Newport Beach, says it wants to privately develop a rail connection between Humboldt Bay’s port and terminals to the east that already plug into the national rail network.

April 30, 2018

His dad died working on a California highway. Now he works for Caltrans, too. – The Sacramento Bee
PECG member Ryan Stiltz is featured in a bittersweet story about his relationship to his father, Perry, a Caltrans employee who was killed by an errant driver on Route 29 in 1973, when Ryan was about 1. Decades later, he followed his dad into Caltrans and now works for the department as a senior bridge engineer.


Silicon Valley Water Agency May Help Fund Delta Tunnels – CBS
Silicon Valley’s largest water district is showing renewed interest in California Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan to build two massive tunnels to ferry water to the southern part of the state. The Mercury News reports the Santa Clara Valley Water District is scheduled to vote Wednesday on whether to commit up to $650 million to the project.


Major Bay Area transportation projects to receive state funding – SFGate
Nearly 20 of the Bay Area’s biggest transportation projects — BART to downtown San Jose, express lanes on the Peninsula, the widening of the Novato Narrows on Highway 101, and a new train-control system for BART — scored big in competition for state funding Wednesday and Thursday. But the victory could be short-lived: About half of the transit funding and all of the highway funding comes from SB1 money that could be repealed by voters in November.


‘Seemingly dysfunctional’ CalPERS leaders spar over documents, access – The Sacramento Bee
A new policy, a locked office door and a You Tube video are the latest signs of escalating tensions among members of CalPERS’ Board of Administration.

April 26, 2018

Cost-of-Living Adjustments for California State Worker Pensions are Safe, for Now  – The Sacramento Bee
Future state workers will receive cost-of-living adjustments when they retire, just as current retirees do, and they won’t have to choose between a CalPERS pension and a 401(k) plan anytime soon after both proposals were shot down on Monday. PECG opposed those measures and others that would have weakened the state’s retirement system and diminished retiree benefits.


Republicans Hope to Ride a Gas-Tax Repeal to Victory – Los Angeles Times
Republicans are on the verge of turning in at least 830,000 signatures for an initiative to repeal the tax increase. Democrats say they are not worried, because the gas tax is paying for much-needed road and bridge repairs. The thinking is that President Trump’s policy decisions will be a bigger factor for voters. The initiative targets a law approved as SB 1 in April 2017 by the Democratic-controlled Legislature and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown. It is expected to raise $5.4 billion annually for road and bridge repairs and improvements to mass transit.


Oroville Dam Without DWR? It’s a Possibility – Chico ER
A bill proposed by Assemblyman James Gallagher which would take the State Water Project out of the hands of the state Department of Water Resources passed unanimously on Tuesday through a legislative committee. Assembly Bill 3045 passed 15-0 through the Assembly Water, Parks, and Wildlife Committee and is now headed to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.


City Officials Split on Who Should Pay for $17B California Delta Tunnels – Construction Dive
Both Los Angeles and San Diego have reduced their Metropolitan Water District usage, and those against the financing plan have said levying fees not in proportion with what customers use could be at odds with the state constitution and might open up the MWD to legal challenges.


$1.5 Billion Calif. Bridge Construction Reaches Milestone – Long Beach Press-Telegram
Workers have begun installing the super structure on the $1.5 billion Gerald Desmond Bridge replacement in Long Beach, Calif., preparing for an initial surface of concrete slabs. Construction of the second-tallest cable-stayed bridge in the US started in 2013, and it has faced cost overruns and delays.


California State Workers Will Keep Monthly PaydaysThe Sacramento Bee
Sen. Andy Vidak, R-Hanford, pitched a proposal to help lower-paid state workers better manage their finances by giving them two checks a month instead of one. Vidak’s office heard from state workers in Caltrans and at the Department of General Services who said they’d have a better handle on their budget if they were paid their wages more frequently.

April 23, 2018

California Announces Tentative Funding for New Giant Dams – SF Gate
California officials said Friday that eight major water projects qualify for a share of billions in state drought funds, an announcement that breathes new life into plans for two reservoir expansions in the Bay Area and two new massive dams in the Central Valley.


High-Speed Rail Project Vastly Underestimated Cost of Relocating Utility Lines Beneath Fresno Los Angeles Times
Buried beneath Fresno were some costly surprises for the California bullet train authority, which disclosed last week that the price of utility relocations along a 29-mile section of railway has surged from a 2013 estimate of $69 million to $396 million.


Can California Fix Its Sexual Harassment Problem? State Workers Are Trying  – The Sacramento Bee
This week, the state will begin providing mandatory, three-day training sessions for EEO officers, covering sweeping topics right down to the nitty-gritty of writing reports as it grapples with tracking and uniformly handling workplace sexual harassment cases.


Three sexual harassment lawsuits later, he’s still working for the state of California  – The Sacramento Bee
Dennis B. Kellogg has spent nearly three decades as a California state employee. He has moved nine times around six different departments in his tenure as a labor relations specialist – and he has been the focus of three sexual harassment lawsuits, two of which settled in the last 10 years for $841,500.

April 19, 2018

Oroville Dam Phase Two of Construction Expected to Start May 8 – Chico Enterprise Record
While some construction continues at Oroville Dam, the bulk of work under phase two is expected to begin May 8, state Department of Water Resources officials said Wednesday in a monthly media update call.


Caltrans Releases Bicycle, Pedestrian Plan To Improve Transport – SF Gate
Caltrans has released its first-ever bicycle and pedestrian plan to improve and organize “active transportation” methods in California. The plan sets a goal of creating safe biking and walking conditions on California roads for people of all ages, abilities and incomes by 2040.


California’s Largest Pension Fund Sends Next Year’s Invoice to State Government: $6.3 Billion –  Los Angeles Times
The California Public Employees Retirement System voted to require an almost $6.3-billion payment from the state budget in the fiscal year that begins on July 1. The action received final approval on Wednesday, reflecting the board’s strategy to gradually increase annual contributions to public employee pensions by the state and from local governments across California while investing those funds more conservatively.


$1B in Emergency Road and Bridge Funds Awarded – Roads & Bridges
The Federal Highway Administration has announced that California will receive $241.6 million of more than $1 billion in Emergency Relief funds. The money will help 32 states, several U.S. territories and Federal Land Management Agencies repair roads and bridges damaged by storms, floods and other unexpected events. (To see the national list by state and event, click here.)

April 16, 2018

Feds Plan to Audit California High-Speed Rail Project – Associated Press
The Federal Railroad Administration has awarded $3.5 billion in grants for a high-speed rail line in California, and the US Department of Transportation plans to audit the project. Costs have increased since the project was first announced, and the California authority behind the rail line says it will cooperate with the audit.


Delta Tunnel Vote Will Raise Water Bills as State Improves Water Delivery Infrastructure – Long Beach Post
What does last week’s vote by the Metropolitan Water District – approving nearly $11 billion in funding for the Delta twin tunnels water project – mean for customers? An average $4.80 per month increase for water service. Here’s why.


White House, Congress Side With California Growers Over Raising Shasta Dam – San Francisco Chronicle
Congress and the Trump administration are pushing ahead with a plan to raise a towering symbol of dam-building’s 20th century heyday to meet the water demands of 21st century California — a project backed by San Joaquin Valley growers but opposed by state officials, defenders of a protected river and an American Indian tribe whose sacred sites would be swamped.


Cuomo Signs Bill That Gives Unions More Power to Recruit Members Despite Supreme Court Case – New York Daily News
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill last week to give unions a boost even if the Supreme Court rules against them in Janus v. AFSCME. The new law would make it easier for public workers’ unions to recruit members — and allow them to deny extra services to people who refuse to join.

April 12, 2018

Southern California Water Agency Votes to Fund Controversial Plan to Build Two Delta Tunnels – Los Angeles Times
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California voted Tuesday to shoulder most of the cost of revamping the system that delivers water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin delta to the Southland, committing nearly $11 billion to building two massive tunnels.


I-5 is ‘Falling Apart,’ and a Massive Fix is Coming – The Sacramento Bee
Tests show portions of I-5 in south Sacramento no longer provide minimal grip for tires. Other sections are cracked and cratered enough to knock car tires out of alignment, according to state engineers. Caltrans announced a three year project beginning next spring to overhaul much of the 43-year-old freeway from Elk Grove to downtown Sacramento.


California State Workers Would Get Paid Twice a Month If This Bill Passes – The Sacramento Bee
The proposal would require the state to pay state workers twice a month, but it would take at least $1 million and a year or more execute.


Caltrans Annual Tribute To Fallen Workers – KUSI
Two cones were added for Tuesday’s memorial in San Diego to represent Caltrans District 4 Bay Bridge Toll Collector Si Si Han and District 4 Structural Steel Painter Supervisor Annette Brooks, who lost their lives in 2017. Since 1920, Caltrans has lost 188 employees in the line of duty.


Commentary: States Likely Can’t Fund Trump’s Infrastructure Plan – The Hill
States probably won’t be able to raise the capital needed to implement President Trump’s infrastructure plan: Since 2012, 31 states, including California, have raised infrastructure spending through gas-tax increases, fees, tolling, leasing, bonding and transfers from general funds. Meanwhile, Trump’s plan provides federal seed money for up to 20 percent of a project’s cost; state and local authorities would have to come up with the rest.

April 9, 2018

SB 1 Funds Allow Caltrans to Add Many Overdue Road Improvements – SCV News
Caltrans submitted its 2018 State Highway Operations and Protection Program to the California State Legislature last week, anticipating nearly 1,000 projects totaling $18 billion.  That was $7 billion more than the 2016 SHOPP proposal and a sign that SB 1 money has allowed the department to accelerate projects previously held back due to a lack of funds.


After Heavy Rains, First Use of Partly Rebuilt Oroville Dam Spillway Now ‘Unlikely’ – The Sacramento Bee
Last week, the California Department of Water Resources said the storm might cause water levels in the Lake Oroville reservoir to rise to the “trigger elevation” of 830 feet. At that point, DWR officials planned to open the spillway gates and release water down the 3,000-foot-long concrete chute. But the lake level only reached 799.7 feet over the weekend.


Southern California Might Pay for Two Delta Tunnels After All – The Sacramento Bee
The Metropolitan Water District, in a memo Friday to its Board, said board members will vote on supporting one of two options for the controversial project: Spend about $5 billion to help pay for a single tunnel or spend nearly $11 billion to fund the majority share of two tunnels.


White House Seeks to Speed Reviews of Major Infrastructure Projects – Reuters
The Trump Administration is announcing a new effort to speed environmental reviews for major infrastructure projects.

News of Note

Caltrans is Desperate to Fill Thousands of New Jobs 
March 13, 2018 The Sacramento Bee

Landmark Infrastructure Funding Bill Spurs Major Job Creation in California
February 5, 2018 Engineering News-Record Spotlight on Labor

2017 News of Note Archive

Public Employees Should Control CalPERS Election, by Mark Sheahan
September 18, 2017 The Sacramento Bee Letters to the Editor

Don’t Waste Highway Money on Greedy Private Contractors, by Bruce Blanning
July 3, 2017 The Sacramento Bee

2016 News of Note Archive

2015 News of Note Archive

Blame Politicians, Not the Bridge Builders
by Roy Flores, PECG Past President
November 6, 2015 The San Diego Union Tribune Letter to the Editor

California State Engineers Ratify Contract
October 28, 2015 The Sacramento Bee

State Engineers Okay Contract That Requires They Pay for Retiree Benefits
October 14, 2015 The Sacramento Bee

Brown Signs Labor Agreements
September 22, 2015 Capital Public Radio

PG&E’s ‘Shady’ Conduct Hindered Probe, Investigators Say
September 12, 2015 San Francisco Chronicle

Deal Requires State Workers to Pay Ahead for Retiree Health Care
September 1, 2015 The Sacramento Bee

State Government Union Reaches Deal on Retiree Healthcare
September 1, 2015 Los Angeles Times

California State Engineers Reach Contract Deal With Jerry Brown
August 31, 2015 The Sacramento Bee

Despite Vehicle-Tracking System, Caltrans Employees Speeding More
Sacramento Bee

Breaking Trust,
by Art Duffy
August 21, 2015 San Francisco Chronicle Letters to the Editor

Letters: Taxes Wasted on No-Bid Contracts
August 15, 2015 Orange County Register

Brown’s Retiree Health Care Proposal Stalls
August 13, 2015 Capital Public Radio

CalPERS Investments Are Solid,
by Cathrina Barros
August 8, 2015 The Sacramento Bee Letters to the Editor

Pensions, Contracts on August Agenda
The Sacramento Bee

Jerry Brown, Employee Unions Set to Tangle Over Health Insurance
January 25, 2015 The Sacramento Bee

2014 News of Note Archive

Caltrans Outfits Fleet With High-Tech Devices
October 10, 2014 The Sacramento Bee

What California State Workers Earn: Engineers
June 26, 2014 The Sacramento Bee

Hearing Date Set for California Civil Engineers’ Furlough Case
June 23, 2014 
The Sacramento Bee