November 30, 2018
Caltrans Officially Kills 710 Extension Project After Decades Of Debate – CBS Los Angeles
The 710 Freeway extension project is officially dead after six decades of debate over lengthening the busy interstate route from Alhambra to Pasadena. Caltrans announced Wednesday that it had finalized a report endorsing local street improvements instead of a freeway tunnel.
Caltrans looks at future of Route 1 – Point Reyes Light
Caltrans has presented possible strategies to address the increasing difficulty and cost of keeping Highway 1 in Marin and Sonoma Counties open in the face of climate change.
Supervisor Kathryn Barger Proposes ‘Emergency Plan’ After 5 Freeway Traffic – KHTS
During Tuesday’s Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors meeting, Barger proposed a partnership between agencies, including Caltrans, involved in the 5 Freeway improvements and suggested they report back monthly to identify traffic patterns and an emergency plan. The emergency plan would be implemented if the I-5 shut down for accidents, weather or construction.
Trump Administration Ponies Up $449M for New California Dam – Courthouse News Service
In an effort to boost California’s water infrastructure and alleviate the state’s perpetual drought worries, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said Tuesday his department will spend more than $449 million to help fund projects to increase the reliability and efficiency of the water supply across the state.
November 26, 2018
Cal Expo cop’s lawsuit targets union lock on state worker paychecks – The Sacramento Bee
A state fair police officer is suing his union because it won’t let him quit paying dues, challenging a common provision in California public employee contracts that forbids workers from leaving their labor organizations while contracts are in effect. Terry Cooley of Galt filed the case in federal court this month with help from a pair of attorneys who have sued several California public unions since the Supreme Court in June handed down a ruling that bans labor organizations from collecting fees from workers who don’t want to join them.
Latest phase of the 5 Freeway widening project completed in Norwalk – Whittier Daily News
Another milestone in the ongoing widening of the 5 Freeway was completed Wednesday: Caltrans opened a new Norwalk Boulevard off-ramp from the northbound side of the freeway. It’s part of the $1.8 billion, 6.7-mile 5 Freeway project to add a carpool and regular lanes on each side of the existing six-lane freeway from the Orange County border to the 605 Freeway.
Big Sur: Soil “settling” behind the cracks on new highway project – Mercury News
Soil settlement rather than continued sliding is behind the cracks forming along newly repaired Highway 1 at Mud Creek, where a spectacular washout had closed the scenic cliff-hugging roadway for 14 months, according to geologic experts. Caltrans engineers have been monitoring the road since the cracks appeared in August and began unnerving local residents. Both Caltrans and independent experts insist the southern gateway to Big Sur on Highway 1 is safe but to expect further cracking as the soil under the fresh asphalt continues to settle.
Editorial: Newsom should pay down California’s huge pension debt – Mercury News
If credit card payments were squeezing our budget and our wealthy aunt suddenly left us money, most of us would use the windfall to pay down our debt. That would certainly be the responsible thing to do. California government should be no different.
November 21, 2018
Bullet-train land acquisitions are moving so slowly a judge hearing the cases calls it a ‘lifetime job’ – Los Angeles Times
Once a month, Judge Edward M. Ross packs his car and drives 200 miles to preside over the biggest government taking of private land for one project in recent California history. His workload — much like the commute — seems to drag on.
Fate of Highway 1’s Last Wooden Trestle Bridge Spurs Fight on North Coast – NBC Bay Area
Albion River Bridge was built in 1942 during World War II, constructed of Douglas fir lumber hauled in from Oregon due to a wartime shortage of concrete and steel. While some 20 other wooden bridges along Highway 1 have since been replaced, Albion River Bridge survived — carrying 3,200 cars a day. Yet the wooden timbers that make the bridge unique, are also why Caltrans believes it now needs to be replaced. Albion residents, however, say the bridge is an indispensable iconic feature that reflects the region’s spirit.
November 19, 2018
Failure of Prop 6 Allows Caltrans to Continue Work on Bay Area Road Projects – KCBS
Road projects in all nine Bay Area counties can continue as planned now that Prop 6 has been voted down. This 55-second audio report features Caltrans District 4 Director Tony Tavares.
Sensitive to smoke? State workers can ask to work from home or take vacation – The Sacramento Bee
State workers who are sensitive to the smoke that has settled in downtown Sacramento can ask their supervisors to work from home, CalHR spokesman Andrew LaMar said. If that’s not possible, public employees can use vacation hours and stay home.
Key design flaws found in FIU bridge that had deadly collapse – Sun-Sentinel.com
Designers overestimated the strength of a critical section of a Florida International University pedestrian bridge that collapsed, killing six people, and they underestimated the load on that same section, federal investigators reported.
As CalPERS rates climb, how high can they go? – Calpensions
A new report shows a third of local governments in CalPERS will have police and firefighter employer rates next fiscal year that are at least 50 percent of pay, a level that a former CalPERS chief actuary believed a decade ago would be “unsustainable.”
November 15, 2018
DWR: Camp Fire poses no threat to Oroville Dam – Western Farm Press
Northern California’s deadly Camp Fire poses no immediate threat to the Oroville Dam, state Department of Water Resources officials say. Crews are taking precautionary measures to ensure the safety of other water infrastructure, including power plants and power lines, the agency reported in a press statement.
California Tunnels Project Circling the Drain After Elections – Bloomberg
This month’s elections may have mortally wounded California’s chances for a long-delayed $23 billion water tunnel project. The project’s biggest cheerleader, Gov. Jerry Brown (D), is leaving office because of term limits and his successor, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), lacks’ Brown’s enthusiasm for the tunnels.
After voters keep gas tax, plans for 15 Freeway toll lanes from Corona to Lake Elsinore move ahead – Press-Enterprise
Inland officials are taking a first step toward building more toll lanes on the 15 Freeway. Express lanes are already being built on the 15, between the 60 Freeway and Cajalco Road in Corona, at a cost of $471 million, and are expected to open by mid-2020. Now transportation officials are laying the groundwork for extending those lanes — two in each direction — 14 miles farther south to Highway 74 in Lake Elsinore.
Investors With $4.8 Trillion, Including CalPERS, Push Gun Industry for Reform – Bloomberg
CalPERS and 12 other investors and money managers with more than $4.8 trillion in combined assets are banding together for the first time to pressure gun manufacturers and sellers to make firearms “safer, more secure and easier to trace.”
Bay Area ‘hidden freeways’ that were never built – ABC 7
As long as cars have been on our streets, California highway planners have seen the need for a network of roads to move cars faster and more efficiently around the Bay Area. Decades later, a lot of that network is in place. But many of the roads envisioned by planners years ago were never built.
November 13, 2018
Trump approves major disaster declaration for California as fires rage on – USA Today
In a Monday night tweet, President Trump said he approved an expedited request for a Major Disaster Declaration, which followed a state of emergency declaration on Nov. 8. Fires continue to burn throughout the state and so far have killed more than 40 people and burned more than 6,000 structures and around 200,000 acres. A Major Disaster Declaration provides funds to affected communities for everything from crisis counseling and housing to public assistance for state and local governments to repair and replace disaster-damaged facilities and infrastructure such as roads, bridges and utilities.
California Supreme Court Sets Oral Arguments on Public Pension Rights – Chief Investment Officer
The California Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on Dec. 5 in a case with potential national implications as to whether pension benefits can be reduced for existing public employees.
Cost of building Southland section of bullet train could jump by $11 billion, documents show – Los Angeles Times
The cost of constructing the Southern California section of the state bullet train could jump by as much as $11 billion over estimates released earlier this year, though rail authority officials caution that their new numbers assume a more expansive design than is likely to be built.
Opinion: Incoming Gov. Newsom Will Have to Clean Up Jerry Brown’s Leftovers – CALmatters
Gavin Newsom will not begin his governorship in January with a budget deficit, but nevertheless, Gov. Jerry Brown will leave him a stack of knotty managerial and policy issues. The two most obvious are Brown’s two pet public works projects, twin tunnels to carry water beneath the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and a north-south bullet train.
November 8, 2018
California voters reject gas tax repeal – Mercury News
“California voters are smart, and they don’t like to be deceived,” said Carl Guardino, a member of the California Transportation Commission. “The more it became clear what was at risk — the safety of our highways and bridges, the loss of funding for traffic relief and transit alternatives, the ongoing frustration of potholes and a lack of road and street maintenance — the more people saw through it.”
Effort to Kneecap Gas Tax Revenue Fails in California – Route Fifty
California voters rejected a ballot measure that would have repealed an increase in the state’s gas tax and upended funding sources for needed repairs to roads and bridges. According to vote tallies as of 12 midnight PST Wednesday, Measure 6 failed on a 45 percent to 55 percent vote. As Los Angeles Times transportation reporter Laura Nelson observed Tuesday night, there was a pronounced geographic split in support for and against the measure.
Calif. High-Speed Rail Agency Tries to Stay on Track – Engineering News-Record
Despite uncertainty about the next governor’s support and the passion of critics who want it canceled, the California High-Speed Rail Authority is carrying on for now with $3 billion worth of work on three sections. Viaducts are rising, trenches are being built, salamanders relocated.
Trial date set for Oroville Dam lawsuits against DWR – Chico Enterprise-Record
A June 1, 2020, trial date has been set to hear several lawsuits against the state Department of Water Resources over the Oroville Dam crisis. Plaintiffs include: PG&E, Butte County, the city of Oroville, Bains Properties, LP, and Bains Farming, LP; Goose Club Farms, LLC; the South Feather Water and Power Agency and the Association of California Water Agencies Joint Powers Insurance Authority; JEM Farms, LP, et al; and residents forced to evacuate when officials feared mass flooding from the failing spillway was eminent.
Caltrans Executive Director Laurie Berman Speaks of Changes Afoot at the State DOT – Streetsblog
Streetsblog sat down recently to talk with the Caltrans Director Laurie Berman about her job. The conversation ranged widely, covering the shifting culture at Caltrans, the department’s goals to get more people using environmentally benign transportation modes, climate change, induced demand, and changing California’s built environment.
November 5, 2018
Gov. Jerry Brown bashes gas tax repeal in rare campaign stop – The Sacramento Bee
California Gov. Jerry Brown made a rare appearance on the 2018 campaign trail Friday, joining a final push against an effort to roll back a gas tax hike he championed to pay for highway repairs. Brown said the initiative was cooked up by “shady politicians” who want to fool Californians.
Oroville Dam repairs aren’t enough, feds warn. Should state be forced to plan for a mega-flood? – The Sacramento Bee
Federal regulators are raising new concerns about the troubled Oroville Dam, telling California officials their recently rebuilt flood-control spillways likely couldn’t handle a mega-flood. That finding could mean public agencies that store water in Lake Oroville will have to spend millions of dollars to upgrade the dam.
Caltrans, SANDAG Kick Off I-5 North County Expansion – KPBS
Local, state and federal transportation officials Friday held a press event marking the start of construction on eight miles of new carpool lanes on Interstate-5 in Carlsbad and Encinitas. The project is part of the larger North Coast Corridor program to add 13 miles of carpool lanes, seven miles of bike and pedestrian paths and 1.5 miles of rail corridor double tracking in North County. Most of the state’s $250 million contribution to the project comes from SB 1, the law passed in Sacramento last year that raised the gas tax and vehicle fees.
$1 billion lawsuit over CalPERS insurance rates moves forward with trial date – The Sacramento Bee
A class-action lawsuit that could cost CalPERS $1 billion is headed to trial in June, and many of the 122,000 retirees who bought an insurance plan at the center of the case are receiving small checks from an agreement that settled a portion of the claims. The lawsuit alleges the pension fund carried out a contract-breaking rate hike on their long-term health care plans five years ago.
Skanska Books $100M Write-Off On P3s As US Civil Chief Exits That Role – Engineering News-Record
Sweden-based contractor Skanska A.B. is quitting its U.S. markets for privatized infrastructure development, after accumulating large losses on major contracts. Under new U.S. leadership, the company also seeks to divest its U.S. power construction business, but will still pursue infrastructure design-build work.
November 1, 2018
Gas tax is needed to meet key freeway projects, California emissions goals, bipartisan group says – Redlands Daily
A bipartisan group of elected officials gathered in Diamond Bar Wednesday to argue for continuation of gas tax and vehicle license fee hikes imposed by state lawmakers last year, saying the monies from SB 1 are earmarked for key freeway and light-rail extension projects that would be left undone without the extra dollars.
Why You Should Keep An Eye On The Effort To Repeal California’s Gas Tax – Huffington Post
Improving California’s bad roads ― by fixing potholes that damage cars and correcting poor highway design that causes congestion, for example ― is expected to save drivers more money on gas and repair costs than they’re paying in gas taxes.
Officials: California dam spillway will be ready for rain – The Associated Press
California water officials said Wednesday that the $1.1 billion spillway at the nation’s tallest dam will be in full working order if it’s needed this winter, nearly two years after it was damaged and thousands were forced to flee. Crews have finished pouring concrete on the main spillway at Oroville Dam, though it still needs to cure for a month and other work is necessary before it can be used.
Privatization or Not, Governments’ Responsibilities Never End – Governing
The bridge collapse in Genoa, Italy illustrates that government can never abdicate its responsibility to provide reliable infrastructure.