January 2023 News Items

January 26, 2023

USDOT orders $29.4 million emergency funding for flood-damage repairs in California – Traffic Technology Today

The USDOT’s Federal Highway Administration has announced the immediate availability of $29.4 million in “quick release” Emergency Relief funds for use by the California Department of Transportation and four US and four US Federal land management agencies as a down payment on the repair work needed because of multiple storms and flooding events that damaged roads, bridges and highways in late December and January.

CARB Proposes Exemptions for Transitions to Electric Trucks – Transport Topics

The California Air Resources Board is making plans to modify its proposed Advanced Clean Fleets regulation to address possible electric charging infrastructure delays and unavailability of models of zero-emission trucks.

California unveils drought resiliency task force – CBS Bay Area

Last week, the California Department of Water Resources kickstarted a partnership between state agencies, local governments, scientists, and community members in a new task force, called the Drought Resilience Interagency and Partners Collaborative.  The water agency hopes the task force will draft emergency response plans and water management based on anticipated drought impacts.

January 23, 2023

‘New slides are occurring every day’: Caltrans updates conditions on Highway 1 in the Big Sur area – KSBW

The California Department of Transportation has released an update on the conditions of Highway 1 in the Big Sur area.  They say rains after Jan. 13 made sections of the highway unpassable due to damage to the roadway, and new slides are occurring every day, even in areas where they have not previously occurred.

Race to zero: Can California’s power grid handle a 15-fold increase in electric cars? – CalMatters

Despite expecting 12.5 million electric cars by 2035, California officials insist that the grid can provide enough electricity.  But that’s based on multiple assumptions — including building solar and wind at almost five times the pace of the past decade — that may not be realistic.

Environmental rules stoke anger as California lets precious stormwater wash out to sea – Phys.org

Environmental rules designed to protect imperiled fish in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta have ignited anger among a bipartisan group of lawmakers.  They say too much of California’s stormwater is being washed out to sea instead of being pumped to reservoirs and aqueducts.  But experts say it’s not that simple.

January 19, 2023

California’s budget shortfall could triple if recession hits, state experts say – KCRA (Sacramento)

California’s projected $22.5 billion budget deficit could triple in size if a recession hits, state financial officials warned state lawmakers on Wednesday.  Erika Li, the chief deputy of budgets for Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Department of Finance, told a Senate committee that if the state enters into a mild recession, the projected $22.5 billion budget deficit the governor is bracing for could grow an additional $20 billion to $40 billion.  If a moderate to severe recession hits, that number could swell to over $60 billion, Li said.

Lawmakers urge FHWA to expedite support to Caltrans – Transportation Today

A delegation of California lawmakers recently sent a letter to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Federal Highway Administrator Shailen Bhatt urging the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to expedite emergency funding to the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans).

No Planet B: CARB Chair Liane Randolph guides CA climate plans – Capitol Weekly

As chair of the California Air Resources Board, Liane Randolph helms the state’s lead agency for climate change programs, putting her center stage on one of the hottest issues of the day.

Despite Rain Storms, California Is Still in Drought – The New York Times (free read)

A rapid string of punishing storm systems, known as atmospheric rivers, has brought extreme amounts of rain and snow to California during the past weeks.  Still, the sudden deluge has not made up for years of an ongoing drought.

January 12, 2023

Gavin Newsom keeps money for state worker pay raises in budget as California deficit looms – The Sacramento Bee (tiered subscription)

Inflation-weary state workers likely will still receive raises this year despite a projected $22.5 billion budget shortfall.  Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposed budget, released Tuesday morning, sets aside more than $487 million for increases in public employee compensation and health care costs for active employees and retirees.  The budget also includes funding to cover 2024 calendar year increases in health and dental premiums.  “Included in these costs are collectively bargained salary and benefit increases resulting from contract and side letter negotiations,” the budget summary read.

Will California join TikTok ban? – CalMatters

California lawmakers introduced bills on Wednesday to ban TikTok and other “high-risk” apps on state-issued cell phones and devices.

Experts explain how CA is simultaneously in a drought and flood emergency – ABC 7 News

California is both in a drought and a flood emergency at the same time.  How is that possible?  Officials from the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) say this “extraordinary” occurrence is yet another climate signal in California.

Still a transportation marvel, Golden Gate Bridge has eventful past – Freight Waves

Deemed one of the “Seven Civil Engineering Wonders of the United States” by the American Society of Civil Engineers, San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge symbolizes architectural greatness and is an integral part of transportation.  Construction on the bridge started 90 years ago last week, kicking off almost four and a half years of arduous and hazardous labor.  And this month, federal officials announced a $400 million project for improvements to ensure the bridge’s longevity due to its importance in California transit.  Here’s a brief history of the structure.

January 9, 2023

State water officials say they are prepared for record flooding – San Francisco Chronicle/Fairfield Daily Republic

California water officials emphasized the likelihood of record flooding in some areas as rain is expected to continue to pound the state this week but expressed no concerns that dams will spill over.  Flood control requirements keep reservoirs well below their total capacity to leave space for precipitation during California’s wet season, November to March, when the state typically receives about half of its yearly precipitation.

Highway 1 South of Monterey County Fully Closed From Mudslides – NBC Bay Area

Highway 1 from Ragged Point in San Luis Obispo County to south of Deetjen’s Big Sur Inn in Monterey County will remain closed as crews clear small slides throughout the area, said Caltrans on Sunday afternoon.

Las Vegas Mayor Calls On California To Widen I-15 – KABC (Las Vegas)

Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman has had it with Interstate 15, but not on her side of the Nevada-California state line.  Goodman tweeted a message to Caltrans and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, calling on California to widen its side of the highway from two lanes in either direction to match Nevada’s three lanes each way.

January 5, 2023

Report says California plan to reach ambitious emissions reduction goals lacks ‘clear strategy’ – The Sacramento Bee (tiered subscription)

The Legislative Analyst’s Office on Wednesday criticized a recently adopted state plan outlining how California will meet ambitious targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, saying it lacked “a clear strategy” and “specificity.”  The report from the agency, which advises the state Legislature on policy and fiscal matters, recommended that lawmakers direct the California Air Resources Board to clarify the document it approved in December.  If they don’t, the analyst’s office warned, the plan could delay action and increase the risk that the state doesn’t meet its 2030 emissions reductions goal.  It could also hurt California’s standing as a leader in reducing emissions and limiting the consequences of climate change.

Golden Gate structural project among 1st to get federal Large Bridge grant – The Daily Republic

One of the first Large Bridge grants from the federal infrastructure package is a $400 million award to “replace, retrofit, and install critical structural elements on the Golden Gate Bridge.”  The White House, through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration, announced the grant on Wednesday.

Floods Show California’s Climate Dilemma: Fight the Water, or Pull Back? – The New York Times (free read)

As California battles a second week of lashing rain and snow that have flooded communities, broken levees, and toppled power lines, the state is facing questions about whether its approach to handling crippling storms is suited to 21st-century climate threats.  For decades, federal and state planners built dams and levees in California to store water and keep it at bay.  But as climate change increases the risk of stronger and more destructive storms — like the one battering Northern California on Wednesday — experts and some policymakers are urging another approach: giving rivers room to overflow.

January 3, 2023

‘Our snowpack is actually off to one of its best starts in the past 40 years,’ DWR says – KRCR

The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) today conducted the first snow survey of the season today at Phillips Station in Tahoe California with the manual survey revealing 55.5 inches of snow depth and a snow water equivalent of 17.5 inches, which is 177 percent of average for this location marking a good start for combating the statewide drought.

Northbound Highway 1 closure extended to Tuesday in Santa Cruz – KSBW

The California Department of Transportation announced the full closure of Highway 1 in Santa Cruz will remain in effect through at least Tuesday morning.  Caltrans says crews are making progress in removing trees and other materials which have accumulated against the bridge on Highway 1, where it crosses the San Lorenzo River.

December 2022 News Items

December 29, 2022

Could West Coast’s atmospheric river help undo drought conditions?  Too early to tell, experts say – ABC News

The atmospheric river impacting the West Coast, while creating dangerous weather conditions for millions of people, could temporarily reverse drought conditions in states that desperately need water.  But despite the sustained levels of rain and snow, some experts think it’s too early to determine if the latest atmospheric river will do enough to reverse drought conditions longer-term.  They say they’ll have a clearer picture in the spring.

California’s ban on big rigs and buses made before 2010 goes into effect in January.  Here’s what that will mean – KCRA News (Sacramento)

Large trucks and buses made before 2010 will be prohibited from operating on California roadways starting January 1.  It’s the final rule in a set of clean air regulations the California Air Resources Board passed nearly 15 years ago.

The ‘Silver Tsunami’ Expected to Hit the Infrastructure Sector – Route Fifty

The bipartisan infrastructure act and other recent legislation are funneling billions of dollars to state and local governments to design and build projects around the country.  But, according to a Brookings Institution report, a critical question is being ignored: Who will maintain all those roads, bridges, buildings, and water lines?

December 22, 2022

Union membership declines again among California state workers.  Leaders blame remote work – The Sacramento Bee (tiered subscription)

Union membership among California state workers dipped in 2022, according to data from the State Controller’s Office.  The trend reflects the challenge of recruiting new members in the era of hybrid and remote work, union leaders say.  The pandemic’s legacy of hybrid and remote work has made recruitment and retention harder for unions like the Professional Engineers in California Government, which used to rely heavily on in-person meetings in the office and at new hire orientations for recruitment.  “It’s very difficult to make that connection, try as we might, over Zoom or WebEx,” said Ted Toppin, executive director of PECG.  “But that doesn’t mean we can stop.”

Fernbridge reopens after 6.4M quake in Humboldt County – KRCR News

Route 211 at the Fernbridge in Humboldt County is now open to one-way controlled traffic, according to Caltrans District 1, while repairs continue to the historic crossing over the Eel River.

CAISO adopts energy storage, imbalance market rules to improve grid reliability – Utility Dive

The California Independent System Operator has approved three reliability improvements for storage management that are set to take effect this summer when extreme heat could cause a spike in demand.

Sierra Nevada Snow Season Off to Best Start in a Decade, But Experts Urge Caution – NBC Bay Area

State water officials say the Sierra Nevada is experiencing its snowiest start to the winter season in a decade, thanks to a handful of storms that dropped several feet of snow.  This time last year, snow depths were reaching 150 percent of normal levels: a hopeful start to the season.  That was until California was hit with the driest January, February and March on record.

December 19, 2022

California approves far-reaching strategy for tackling climate change.  So what’s next? – CalMatters

California’s air board last week unanimously approved a sweeping state plan to battle climate change, creating a blueprint for the next five years to cut carbon emissions, reduce reliance on fossil fuels, and speed up the transition to renewable energy.  Called a scoping plan, the 297-page strategy could serve as a roadmap for other states and countries to follow, including a long list of proposed measures that, once adopted, would slash California’s greenhouse gases and clean up air pollution in the smoggiest state in the nation.

Federal push for emissions tracking reveals split among state DOTs – Washington Post (free read)

From his new perch as president of the powerful group representing state transportation departments, Roger Millar pledged this fall to help protect the nation’s roads from a changing climate.  Resilience is an increasingly urgent job for transportation agencies battling the effects of flooded roads and overheated concrete.  But when it comes to addressing the role of the transportation sector — the largest contributor of greenhouse gas emissions — in a warming planet, many state agencies have been more muted.

State of California to install more security cameras in East Bay – KRON TV

(KRON) – After a spate of shootings this year, the calls to install cameras on freeways have gotten louder.  Two hundred closed-circuit television cameras are slated to be installed statewide – and Caltrans says eight are already up the East Bay.  The new CCTV cameras are high-definition, and they should be able to detect the type of vehicle, license plate number, and even the number of people inside.  Caltrans is funding the pilot program with a one-time expense of $10 million.

December 15, 2022

Caltrans Reports on Achievements from Statewide Bike and Pedestrian Plan – Streetsblog California

The California Transportation Commission’s meeting last week featured a brief update on the Statewide Bike and Pedestrian Plan.  Caltrans’ Division Chief of Transportation Planning Marlon Flournoy and his team are working on a progress report on the department’s 2017 plan, “Towards an Active California,” a compendium of proposals that could lead to increased biking and walking while reducing fatalities among vulnerable road users.  More information and the draft report can be found here.

Drought emergency declared for all of Southern California by nation’s largest water supplier – CBS News

The nation’s largest water supplier has declared a drought emergency for Southern California, clearing the way for potential mandatory water restrictions early next year that could impact 19 million people.

December 12, 2022

CalPERS retirees elect longtime SEIU president to represent them on pension board – The Sacramento Bee (tiered subscription)

Former California union leader Yvonne Walker won election for a seat representing retired public employees on the 13-member CalPERS Board of Administration for the next five years, according to voting results announced Thursday in Sacramento.  Walker, who led Local 1000 of the Service Employees International Union 2008 through 2021, secured the seat with 56.9% of the vote in a runoff election that pitted her against Randall Cheek, the legislative director of the Retired Public Employees Association, a volunteer position.

‘Plastic Roads’ Are Paved With Good Intention – Stateline

Transportation officials in multiple states are testing whether roads made from grocery bags, juice cartons, printer ink cartridges, or other discarded plastic can make pavement last longer, save money and reduce waste in landfills.  In May, the California Department of Transportation tested an asphalt mixture that contains 10% recycled plastic from printer ink cartridges on a shoulder of Highway 99 in Elk Grove, near Sacramento, according to spokesperson Will Arnold.  The pavement looked and performed better than expected after several months, so in August, the department expanded the test by using the mix to pave all lanes in a 500-foot section of the highway, Arnold said in an email.

How do floating wind turbines work?  5 companies just won the first U.S. leases for building them off California’s coast – The Conversation

Northern California has some of the strongest offshore winds in the U.S., with immense potential to produce clean energy.  But it also has a problem.  Its continental shelf drops off quickly, making building traditional wind turbines directly on the seafloor costly, if not impossible.  Once water gets more than 200 feet deep – roughly the height of an 18-story building – these “monopile” structures are pretty much out of the question.  A solution has emerged that’s being tested in several locations worldwide: wind turbines that float.

December 8, 2022

Caltrans testing new life-saving tech along busy I-8 exit aimed to prevent wrong-way driving – Fox 5 (San Diego)

Caltrans crews are testing a new notification system focused on spotting wrong-way drivers on a busy section of Interstate 8 freeway at Mission Bay. It’s all part of an initiative to prevent head-on accidents at the Sunset Cliffs Boulevard off-ramp, a spot California Highway Patrol reports shows high instances of wrong way driving activity.

Water thieves abound in dry California. Why are they so hard to catch? ­– Grist

Over the past decade, as more states have clamped down on water usage, water managers in California and across the west have found themselves struggling to monitor all potential violations, and to implement water rights laws that they’ve never had to use before.

California’s $1.2 billion Capitol renovation violated state environmental laws, court says ­ Sacramento Bee (tiered subscription)

The future of the planned California Capitol annex is in limbo after an appeals court ruled that the project’s environmental impact report failed to comply with state law.

December 5, 2022

I-15 state line project wasn’t ‘immediate relief’ promised to motorists – Las Vegas Review-Journal

Thanksgiving weekend represented the first test of the recently completed initial phase of work on Interstate 15 southbound at the Nevada-California border that was intended to alleviate traffic congestion.  While there was some improvement in traffic backups last weekend, it wasn’t the “immediate relief” motorists expected when promised last year by the states’ top officials.

Highway 1 closure in Big Sur continues Monday, Caltrans reports – KSBW

A section of Highway 1 along the Big Sur coastline was still closed Monday morning due to a rockslide, the California Department of Transportation reported.  Both directions of the highway are closed from south of Big Sur to Ragged Point in San Luis Obispo County.  The rockslide was reported Saturday afternoon.

High-speed rail line from LA to Las Vegas could begin construction in 2023 Construction Dive

California could see its second high-speed rail project begin construction next year, according to news reports.  Brightline West looks to build an $8 billion passenger rail corridor connecting Southern California and Las Vegas, mainly within the median of the Interstate 15 freeway.  It would operate 180-mph electric trains.

December 1, 2022

California DOT orders $18 million worth of Tesla Model 3 EVs – carscoops.com

Caltrans has ordered 399 Tesla Model 3s as part of the effort to electrify Caltrans’ entire fleet by 2030.

U.S. government pledges $250 million to help ailing Salton Sea – Los Angeles Times (tiered subscription)

The Biden administration has announced a plan to provide $250 million to accelerate environmental projects around the shrinking Salton Sea, a major commitment intended to help revitalize the lake’s ecosystems and control hazardous dust.  The deal also clears the way for California to take less water from the drought-ravaged Colorado River.  The infusion of federal money is the central feature of an agreement among the federal government, the Imperial Irrigation District, the California Natural Resources Agency, and the Coachella Valley Water District.

More than 70 water agencies in California could face water shortages in the coming months, state report shows – CNN

Nearly 20% of California’s urban water agencies reported they could see significant water shortages in the coming months as the state braces for a potential fourth consecutive year of drought.  After surveying urban water agencies serving roughly 90% of the state’s population, the California Department of Water Resources released its first report that assesses how the state is faring with water supply amid unrelenting drought conditions.

November 2022 News Items

November 28, 2022

California looks to ban all gas and diesel truck fleets – SFGate

The California Air Resources Board has laid out an ambitious plan to eventually force all diesel truck fleets of the road, with varying deadlines.  This includes mandating that all new trucks operating around busy railways and ports be zero-emission vehicles by 2024, phasing out all diesel trucks from those areas by 2035, and eventually taking every diesel truck and bus fleet off California roads by 2045, where feasible.

California regulators OK $1 billion for EV charging project, mostly for trucks – Los Angeles Times (tiered subscription)

The California Public Utilities Commission has approved a $1-billion vehicle electrification charging project, with most of the money earmarked to accelerate the number of midsize and heavy-duty trucks on the state’s roads.  Some 70% of the funds will go to charging medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, which combine to account for a disproportionate amount of greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector. Costs of the five-year program will be spread out among utility ratepayers across California.

Before and after: Satellite imaging shows California’s reservoir levels years apart– KTLA

Satellite imaging from Google Earth shows the conditions of the state’s reservoirs now versus where they were about five years ago.

November 21, 2022

California Boosts Electric-Car Charging Investment by $1 Billion –  Bloomberg

California plans to spend an additional $1 billion to bolster its vehicle-charging network as it races to build the infrastructure needed to phase out gas-powered trucks and cars.  The five-year program will allocate 70% of the funding for medium- and heavy-duty vehicle charging, with the balance for light-duty equipment at or near multi-unit dwellings, according to a California Public Utilities Commission statement Thursday.

California Climate Plan Scraps New Gas Plants, Expands Carbon Capture for Fossil Fuels – Capital & Main

The California Air Resources Board has released a near-final version of a road map to reduce the state’s emissions to zero by the middle of the century.  It calls for massive cuts to planet-heating pollution that would transform how Californians commute, live, and consume energy.

November 17, 2022

California stares down $25B deficit after years of record cash – Politico

California not long ago was reveling in a record budget surplus.  Now the Legislature’s fiscal analysts are projecting a $25 billion deficit next fiscal year as tax revenues decline.  The nonpartisan agency on Wednesday put the Capitol on alert by recommending state lawmakers cut spending when they reconvene in January — and even hold back some already-budgeted funding to avoid the shortfall.

Slashing greenhouse gases: California revises climate change strategy – CalMatters

The California Air Resources Board this week unveiled a new version of its highly-anticipated strategy for battling climate change, setting more ambitious targets for cutting greenhouse gases and scaling up controversial projects that capture carbon.  If adopted by the air board at its Dec. 15 meeting, the plan would radically reshape California’s economy, alter how Californians’ vehicles, buildings, and appliances are powered, and ultimately serve as a blueprint for other states and countries to follow.

AECOM to help manage California High-Speed Rail project – Construction Europe

The California High-Speed Rail Authority has announced that a joint venture that includes AECOM has been selected to provide program management support for the much-delayed California High-Speed Rail project.

These are the driest reservoirs in California – KTLA

Despite recent rainstorms across the state, California’s historic drought shows no signs of slowing down any time soon.  Across the board, nearly all major water supply reservoirs managed by the California Department of Water Resources are well below historical averages.

November 14, 2022

California Deploys Portable Emissions Detectors Ahead of New Smog Rules – Transport Topics

California is deploying a portable emissions detector in areas with heavy truck traffic to educate drivers and operators about a new smog check program that starts Jan. 1.  The California Air Resources Board is launching the Heavy-Duty Inspection and Maintenance Program next year, calling it “a groundbreaking smog check program” to help ensure the 1 million heavy-duty trucks operating there “run clean for the life of the vehicle.” 

Telework Maintains Strong Foothold Across California Agencies – Sacramento Bee / Government Technology

New data pulled from the Department of General Services’ data dashboard shows that the majority of state agencies are forging ahead with remote work arrangements.  Some 90 percent of staff are working remotely in 37 departments.

New report paints a grim picture of climate change accelerating in California – San Francisco Examiner

California continues to break records of the wrong kind: record-high temperatures, record-low snowpack, historic drought, and unprecedented wildfires.  These are the fingerprints of climate change — and its impacts are hitting California faster and with greater intensity than previously expected.  That’s according to a new report released by state scientists last week that painted a grim picture of climate change’s grip on the Golden State.

November 10, 2022

Last year’s losses at California pension systems were larger than initial reports showed – Sacramento Bee / Monterey Herald

California’s two giant pension systems lost a couple of billion dollars more than was previously reported in the volatile markets of the first half of this year.  The Public Employees’ Retirement System and the State Teachers’ Retirement System recently published more-complete financial figures for the fiscal year that ended June 30, incorporating updated private equity and real asset returns along with other factors.  The adjustments happen every year.

Solano board supports moving Highway 37 plan forward – Solano Daily Republic

The Solano County Board of Supervisors agreed Tuesday to send a letter to Caltrans supporting the Highway 37 Interim Project for interim and long-term solutions to congestion and sea rise issues.  One of those solutions, Supervisor Erin Hannigan said, will eventually make the highway a toll road.  She said many of the motorists using Highway 37 have indicated they support if it means less congestion.

California settles with firm in Volkswagen emissions scandal – Associated Press / KPBS

California on Monday settled a lawsuit against a German company stemming from the emissions scandal that tarred Volkswagen in 2015 and Fiat Chrysler two years later.  German auto supplier Bosch will pay $25 million to settle allegations by the state and California Air Resources Board under a court complaint and settlement agreement, both filed Monday.  A judge will need to sign off on the settlement.

November 7, 2022

US Traffic Safety Is Getting Worse, While Other Countries Improve ­– Bloomberg

The rising rate of road deaths in the US continues to defy global trends.  Here’s what traffic planners in other nations could teach their American counterparts. 

How can California boost its water supply? – CalMatters

Over and over again, drought launches California into a familiar scramble to provide enough water.  Cities and towns call for conservation and brace for shortages.  Growers fallow fields, and ranchers sell cows.  And thousands of people discover that they can’t squeeze another drop from their wells.  So where can California get enough water to survive the latest dry stretch — and the next one, and the next?

November 3, 2022

California High-Speed Rail Authority releases fall construction update – Railway Track & Structures

The California High-Speed Rail Authority has released its autumn construction update.  Highlights include recent milestones, such as the completion of three high-speed rail grade separations.  The video also includes new drone footage and updates across all Central Valley high-speed rail construction packages.

Investigation: Chronic water shortages increase, yet California regulators are unprepared – The Sacramento Bee (tiered subscription)

A Sacramento Bee investigation reveals that farmers and other water users frequently ignore state drought regulations. The Bee interviewed dozens of farmers, policy experts, American Indian tribal members, environmentalists, and regulators. It reviewed hundreds of pages of court rulings, regulatory filings, and other public records. The findings reveal a state regulatory system dramatically unprepared to address chronic water shortages and an ecosystem collapse.

Almost half of phishing attacks target gov employees, research say – GCN

Government employees were the target of almost half of all phishing attacks last year and are at risk of having their credentials stolen in those attacks, according to a new report. Researchers at cloud security company Lookout found that public-sector employees were the subject of 50% of all credential-stealing phishing attacks in 2021, up from 30% in 2020, as many agencies continued to embrace hybrid work in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

October 2022 News Items

October 31, 2022

This Citizen Science Project Is Taking On Roadkill — and Potentially Saving Animals – Discover

Project Roadkill Reports asks volunteers to note where they see roadkill to one day design better policies to prevent animals from getting struck by vehicles.  Organizers say they hope to see data from Roadkill Reports put to use by departments of transportation and other agencies to help design better ways to help animals avoid being killed by cars.

Aging Infrastructure May Create Higher Flood Risk in L.A., Study Finds – The New York Times (free read)

Between 197,000 and 874,000 city residents could experience a foot of flooding during an extreme storm, researchers found.  Most of them don’t live in beachfront mansions.

October 27, 2022

Racing the Clock to Restore the Roadway ­– Engineering News-Review

When floodwaters washed away a critical portion of Interstate 10 in the Southern California desert recently, Caltrans and its contractors moved fast to restore traffic.

California carbon emissions fell 9% in pandemic’s 1st year  –Associated Press

California’s planet-warming emissions dropped nearly 9% in 2020 compared to the year before as pandemic restrictions kept people at home, out of their cars and away from the workplace for much of the year.  The data released Wednesday marks California’s largest single-year emissions drop and tracks with a similar reduction nationwide.

How California can expand solar development and support San Joaquin Valley farmers – CalMatters

There is a unique opportunity to align the implementation of two state policies, groundwater laws and California’s clean energy goals to benefit consumers and support the economy in one of the state’s most economically challenged regions.

October 24, 2022

Public Pensions Weathered “The Great Recession” and Took Action to Ensure Long-Term Sustainability – Forbes

The Great Recession, lasting from December 2007 to June 2009, was the most severe economic downturn in the U.S. since the Great Depression.  Virtually all investors lost money during the financial market crash, typically about a quarter of assets.  However, pension funds rebounded and made a number of changes since then that, while increasing costs and liabilities in the short term, have made plans fundamentally stronger and better prepared to weather future market downturns. 

Heat Waves Are Devastating Hydropower in China and the Western U.S. – altenergymag.com

As global warming bears down on the planet, rising temperatures devastate countries worldwide.  These repercussions are striking in China and the western United States, where advancements in renewable energy intend to safeguard energy security and provide clean, reliable power to its populations and economies.

October 20, 2022

New California Law Protects Wildlife Corridors—and a Lot More – Pew

The Safe Roads and Wildlife Protection Act, which Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law on Sept. 30, takes a comprehensive approach to address ecosystem connectivity from a transportation perspective, offering more substance for California lawmakers to consider as plans for the 2023 legislative sessions come into focus. 

New mega reservoir in final planning phase for California  KTVU

California is getting closer to creating a massive new reservoir within a huge natural Colusa County valley shaped like an elongated oval bowl.  When completed, the long-proposed $4 billion Sites Reservoir will hold enough water to feed the needs of five million homes a year or a half million acres of farmland.  That’s enough water to cover every square inch of San Francisco 50 feet deep.

Can electric buses serve as backup batteries on wheels? — Canary Media

A California pilot project is testing transit buses as a portable backup power source.  If it works, they could replace dirty diesel generators during blackouts.

15 seconds that changed the San Francisco Bay Area: Devastation of the 1989 quake remembered — Fox Weather

The San Francisco Bay Area was celebrating on Oct. 17, 1989, as both home teams faced off against each other in Game 3 of the World Series.  The mood lasted until 5:04 p.m. when the Loma Prieta earthquake, a 6.5 magnitude, shook for 15 seconds and changed the Bay Area forever.  Over a mile of the upper deck of the two-story Cypress Viaduct of I-880 collapsed on the lower level in Oakland.  Pictures capture bystanders trying to pull drivers and passengers, crushed and trapped, from cars.  On that stretch of highway alone, 41 people died.

October 17, 2022

US carmaker to pay California $5.6M.  Funds to help improve South Coast region air – Air Quality Matters

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) reached a $5,601,090 settlement agreement with FCA US LLC (FCA) of Auburn Hills, Mich., for violations of CARB’s air quality regulations.  This is the second enforcement action against FCA in the past four years. The FCA vehicles and model years involved in the settlement include 2012 through 2018 RAM 1500, Jeep Grand Cherokee, and Dodge Durango vehicles, equipped with 5.7L gasoline engines. More than 30,000 vehicles were involved.

California invests nearly $3 billion for transportation improvements – KSBY 6

The California Transportation Commission last week allocated nearly $3 billion for projects to repair and improve transportation infrastructure throughout the state.  The allocation includes more than $452 million in funding from the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021 and more than $123 million in funding from Senate Bill 1.

‘Water batteries’ could store solar and wind power for when it’s needed – National Public Radio

The San Diego County Water Authority has an unusual plan to use the city’s scenic San Vicente Reservoir to store solar power so it’s available after sunset. The project, and others like it, could help unlock America’s clean energy future.

October 13, 2022

White House: Nearly $60B from infrastructure law sent to roads and bridges – The Hill

The Biden administration on Tuesday announced it will invest nearly $60 billion from the bipartisan infrastructure law towards roads, bridges, tunnels, carbon emission reduction, and safety improvements in all 50 states, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico.  States that will receive the most include Texas, which will receive nearly $5.5 billion; New York, which will receive more than $2.7 billion; and California, which will receive more than $5.6 billion. 

California Coastal Commission Considering New Desalination Plant in Orange County – NBC Los Angeles

The California Coastal Commission is expected to vote on a new desalination plant at Doheny State Beach to help fight the drought, but some campers oppose the idea.

California’s latest laurels: the nation’s cleanest school buses – San Francisco Examiner

A California Air Resources Board report found that the state is leading the nation in replacing its school buses with a zero-emission fleet.  Approximately 1,800 clean buses are commissioned in California, with about half already on the road.  That compares to about 880 total in the rest of the United States.

California High-Speed Rail seeks funds for Bakersfield Extension – Railway Technology

The California High-Speed Rail Authority (Authority) in the U.S. has applied for $67 million in new federal funds to ramp up key safety upgrades along the rail line in the Central Valley.  The Authority wants to use the funds on six current railroad grade crossings in Shafter.

October 10, 2022

How California’s Bullet Train Went Off the Rails – New York Times (free read)

America’s first experiment with high-speed rail has become a multi-billion-dollar nightmare.  Political compromises created a project so expensive that almost no one knows how it can be built as originally envisioned.

A California city’s water supply is expected to run out in two months –The Washington Post (free read)

Amid a historic drought and record shortages, Coalinga is searching for extra water to make it through the rest of this year.  If the city doesn’t find relief, it would be forced to buy additional water on the open market at exorbitant prices that could swamp the city’s budget.

Toyota President Thinks California’s EV Targets Will Be Tough To Meet – Motor1.com

In August 2022, the California Air Resources Board voted to ban the sale of new internal-combustion-powered light vehicles in the state starting in 2035.  During a recent media roundtable, Toyota President Akio Toyoda commented on the rule and was uncertain about meeting the requirements.

As Electric Vehicles Shrink Gas Tax Revenue, More States May Tax Mileage – Pew

The increasing popularity of hybrid and electric vehicles is shrinking revenue from gas taxes, prompting more states to consider charging fees based on miles driven to help pay for roads and bridges.  This year at least eight states considered bills that would modify existing programs or set up new pilot programs to tax drivers of electric vehicles (typically all-electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles) based on the miles they drive.  California and Oregon recently expanded their pilot programs as well.

October 6, 2022

Changing climate increases risk for 91,000 US dams, research warns – KCRA TV (Sacramento)

Five years after the Oroville Dam crisis, researchers say that the increasing number and severity of wildfires and extreme rainfall events will put more pressure on dams and other infrastructure in the years ahead.  Fire-decimated forests have less ability to hold back or slow stormwater, snow melt, and debris that flow into reservoirs, according to one study.  Meanwhile, a second report forecasts the number of times an extreme fire event will precede extreme rainfall within just one year could soar up to 800%, also increasing stress on dams.

California announces new water conservation actions – Water World

California’s Department of Water Resources (DWR) has announced new measures that aim to save enough water to supply 4.7 million Californians annually while making conservation more affordable through financial assistance and tax exemptions.

California Wells Run Dry as Drought Depletes Groundwater – NBC 7 (San Diego)

More than 1,200 wells have run dry this year statewide, a nearly 50% increase over the same period last year, according to state data.

October 3, 2022

Governor Signs Bill to Integrate Wildlife Corridors into Highway Plans – Public News Service

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill into law on Friday to require Caltrans to integrate wildlife corridors into its plans as roads are built around the state. 

How can Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant stay open? ‘It’s not a done deal’ – San Luis Obispo Tribune

PG&E is preparing for two futures: one in which it closes Diablo Canyon Power Plant in 2025 and another in which it continues operating the nuclear power plant through 2030.

Gov. Newsom demands California regulator take action to lower gas prices – KCRA (Sacramento)

Gov. Gavin Newsom is calling for California regulators to speed up the transition to cheaper winter-blend gasoline as prices at the pump keep rising.  Newsom sent a letter to the California Air Resources Board on Friday directing it to take whatever steps are necessary to allow refineries to begin making and distributing winter-blend gasoline.  The blend, normally only allowed to be made after Oct. 31, is easier to make and cheaper for consumers.

September 2022 News Items

September 29, 2022

New York state to adopt California 2035 EV rules – Reuters

New York state plans to adopt California’s rules approved in August that would require all new vehicles sold in the state by 2035 to be either electric or plug-in electric hybrids, Governor Kathy Hochul said on Thursday. 

Forest Service launches criminal probe into Mosquito Fire; seizes PG&E equipment– Reuters

Californian utility PG&E Corp said on Monday it was cooperating with the U.S. Forest Service after the federal agency started a criminal investigation into the U.S. state’s largest wildfire this year.

September 26, 2022

California plans to phase out new gas heaters by 2030 – National Public Radio

The Golden State just became the first in the nation to begin making fossil-fuel furnaces and heaters a thing of the past.  In its ongoing effort to slash ozone pollution, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) voted Thursday to ban the sale of new gas furnaces and water heaters beginning in 2030.  Homes will be required to install zero-emissions alternatives, like electric heaters.

Enjoyed the rain?  California eyes ‘fourth dry year’ as drought outlook remains grim – The Sacramento Bee (tiered subscription)

Yes, Northern California received some rain last week, dousing much of the Mosquito Fire and bringing a light coating of snow to the Sierra Nevada.  But one of the worst droughts in recorded history remains an everyday reality, and the outlook for winter is for more of the same, a top official with the state Department of Water Resources says.

Here’s how California’s canals could advance the state’s renewable energy goals – PBS NewsHour

For now, Project Nexus – which will install solar panels over about two miles of public water-delivery canals in the Central Valley – is starting small.  But researchers view the state’s canals as a gold mine for not just energy, but information that can inform future energy projects.  And research suggests that covering all of California’s canals – spanning roughly 4,000 miles – with solar panels could save up to 63 billion gallons of water now lost to evaporation and generate 13 gigawatts of renewable power annually.  That’s roughly enough to power 9.75 million homes.

September 22, 2022

Hwy. 37 could be underwater by 2050.  Here’s how Caltrans plans to keep traffic flowing – Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Caltrans intends to build an elevated road along Highway 37 to combat rising water levels, which are expected to eventually inundate the North Bay arterial.  The proposed project stretches across the existing route along San Pablo Bay and through Marin, Sonoma, Napa and Solano counties.

Dangerous arsenic levels may be lurking in California prison water: study – The Hill

Incarcerated Californians — and those who live in neighboring rural communities — may be exposed to dangerous levels of arsenic in their drinking water, a new study has found.  Arsenic concentrations in the water supply of the Kern Valley State Prison and three nearby Central Valley communities exceeded regulatory limits for months or even years at a time, according to the study published on Wednesday in Environmental Health Perspectives.

California could phase out gas heaters by 2030 to cut smog – Smart Cities

Gas heaters in homes and buildings are “an underappreciated driver of unhealthy air quality in California cities,” according to a report released Tuesday.  The appliances generate about four times as much nitrogen oxide pollution as California’s electric utilities and approximately two-thirds as much as its light-duty passenger cars.  Environmental groups and a public policy think tank issued the report ahead of a California Air Resources Board meeting.  Board members are set to vote on a plan that would require zero-emissions heaters in 2030, ending new sales of gas heaters.

Senate Panel Examines IIJA Highway Programs’ Rollout – Engineering News-Record (tiered subscription)

With the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act now on the books for more than 10 months, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee is continuing its oversight of how the U.S. Dept. of Transportation is carrying out the law’s highway and bridge portions, which account for about 29% of the IIJA’s $1.2 trillion in funding.  At a Sept. 21 hearing, committee lawmakers and witnesses representing state and local governments offered mixed reviews for the law’s rollout.

September 20, 2022

California ends mandatory COVID-19 testing for most unvaccinated state workers –  The Sacramento Bee

Unvaccinated state employees are no longer required to take weekly COVID-19 tests as of Sept. 16, according to a California Human Resources Department memo.  However, unvaccinated employees in “high-risk and/or acute health care and long-term care settings” must still be tested weekly, according to the email.  Departments have reported administering more than 1.8 million tests, with about 30,000 positives, since testing began.  Roughly 22% of state workers remain unvaccinated, according to CalHR data.

Barger praises Caltrans crews for ‘ingenious’ I-5 solution – Santa Clarita Valley Signal

Following the end of the nightly full closures of the Interstate 5 in Castaic due to construction needs and repairs, Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger praised the Caltrans construction crews last week for completing their work in a timely fashion. 
“I’m extremely appreciative of Caltrans’ efforts to ease the traffic nightmare on the I-5 that was impacting both motorists and my constituents from the Castaic community,” Barger said in a prepared statement on Thursday.  “Caltrans designed an ingenious solution — essentially converting the median into a third lane — and committed all the necessary resources to implement that solution as quickly as possible. I commend their team and leadership for having made it happen.”

September 15, 2022

Gavin Newsom rewards law enforcement, fire, health care workers with COVID pay.  Not others – The Sacramento Bee (tiered subscription)

Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, California state department leaders decided which of their employees were essential and which weren’t under guidelines issued by Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration.  Those deemed essential had to keep reporting in-person to prisons, state hospitals, fire stations and office buildings while others could work from home.  Now the Newsom Administration is issuing $1,500 pandemic bonuses to state law enforcement officers, health care facility employees and firefighters, but not other employees.

America’s Transportation Awards finalists announced – Equipment World

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials has announced 12 finalists in the 2022 America’s Transportation Awards competition.  Caltrans is in the running for developing 360 Tours, an interactive web-based interface that allows the public to explore construction projects using virtual reality.

Electric Vehicle Charger Plans in 35 States Approved by White House – Route Fifty

The federal government this week approved plans submitted by a majority of states, including California, to begin building out electric vehicle charging networks along key highways.

September 12, 2022

California approves microplastics testing of drinking water sources – CalMatters

The State Water Resources Control Board unanimously approved the world’s first requirements for testing microplastics in drinking water sources — a key step towards regulating the ubiquitous tiny fragments in the environment.  Under the plan, up to 30 of the state’s largest water providers will be ordered to start quarterly testing for two years, beginning in the fall of 2023.

California Air Resources Board May Speed Fleet Electrification – Government Technology

The California Air Resources Board is set to consider new regulations to hasten the electrification of delivery vans and other medium- and heavy-duty fleet vehicles starting in 2024.

Caltrans Update: Progress on Complete Streets Policy – Streetsblog CA

Caltrans just issued its first quarterly update on implementing the department’s Complete Streets policy, and more than three-quarters of its action-plan tasks are completed or underway.  The update also offers a few highlights of specific successes.

September 8, 2022

Preferred alternative for 30-mile high-speed rail segment in Calif. calls for tunnel construction – Railway Track and Structures

The California High-Speed Rail Authority has released the draft environmental document for the more than 30-mile segment between Palmdale and Burbank in southern California. 

The draft environmental document is available for California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) public review through Nov. 1. 

The project section is between 31 and 38 miles long and will connect two key population centers in Los Angeles County, the Antelope Valley and the San Fernando Valley, by linking future multimodal transportation hubs in Palmdale and Burbank.

September 6, 2022

Thermostats in California state buildings will go to 78 degrees — and then 85 — to save power – The Sacramento Bee (tiered subscription)

State workers in Sacramento will return from the Labor Day holiday to offices considerably warmer than usual.  With California struggling to avoid blackouts and energy consumption expected to hit a record, the state will set its thermostats at 78 degrees starting at 4 p.m. Tuesday.  For those working late, the thermostats will jump to 85 degrees at 5 p.m., said Erin Mellon, a spokeswoman for Gov. Gavin Newsom.  The 85-degree setting will be in effect until 10 p.m.  The buildings will get cooled off starting at 3 a.m. in preparation for staffers who come to work at 7 a.m.

Generators in Roseville and Yuba City Providing up to 120 Megawatts to Grid During Extreme Heat Emergency – Appeal-Democrat/Yubanet

The California Independent System Operator (ISO) on Monday requested the activation of two temporary emergency power generators deployed in Roseville and Yuba City.  It was the first time the four generators were brought online.  In total, they can provide up to 120 megawatts of electricity to the statewide power grid during extreme heat events.

September 1, 2022

How quickly will electric vehicles take over, now that California has mostly banned gas-powered cars in 2035? – San Francisco Chronicle (tiered subscription)

Is California’s effort to mostly ban the sale of new gasoline-powered cars by 2035 actually workable?

California can’t waver on water regulation – CalMatters

Over the past decade, California has gone from being the state with the least groundwater regulation to adopting a law that serves as an international model.  How the state implements its landmark groundwater law during California’s worst drought on record could inform global climate change adaptation practices for generations.  The Golden State has one shot over the next 20 years to bring its depleted aquifers into balance and achieve sustainability.  Californians are counting on the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act to get the state there.

Animal crossings to protect wildlife could be coming to these Northern California highways – Siskiyou Daily News / Redding Record Searchlight

The California Department of Transportation wants to build animal crossings over and under North State highways to help wildlife navigate across them.

Support for labor unions in the U.S. is at a 57-year high – National Public Radio

Seventy-one percent of Americans now approve of labor unions, according to Gallup, the highest approval of organized labor that the polling firm has recorded since 1965.

August 2022 Archives

August 29, 2022

Infrastructure Rankings: Measuring states’ energy, transportation and internet – US News & World Report

In ranking the Best States for infrastructure, internet accessibility, the use of renewable energy, and the quality of roads and bridges were major considerations.  California ranked 39th in energy, 6th in internet access, and 45th in transportation, ranking its overall infrastructure at #31.  Nevada topped the list by placing 9th in energy, 1st for internet access, and 7th for transportation.  It’s followed by Oregon, Washington, North Dakota, and Utah to round out the top five.

Here Are the Challenges Ahead for California’s Ban on Gas Cars – New York Times (free read)

California has laid out an audacious goal: In 13 years, it should no longer be possible to buy a new car that runs purely on gasoline anywhere in the state.  Yet it remains to be seen whether California can turn that vision into a reality. 

August 25, 2022

New contract for California state union lifts pay by 7.5%, offers family leave in $458M deal  – The Sacramento Bee (tiered subscription)

A new contract agreement would provide 7.5% in raises to California state engineers over the next three years plus paid family leave at no cost to them.  

The Professional Engineers in California Government reached the three-year deal with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration on Friday.  The tentative agreement, which would add about $458 million in state spending by the end of its term, requires approval from union members and the Legislature to take effect.

The 12,600 rank-and-file employees the union represents would receive a 2.5% raise retroactive to July 1, plus a 3% raise next year and a 2% raise in 2024, according to a summary posted on the California Human Resources Department website.
Titled Nonindustrial Disability Insurance, the new benefit provides up to six weeks of partially paid leave for workers with new children or seriously ill family members.  While nearly all private-sector employees in California have been eligible for the state’s landmark paid family leave program since 2004, many state employees are not.  For them, it’s subject to collective bargaining, and the only union that obtained the benefit, opting to pay about 1% of salary for it, was SEIU Local 1000.
The new variety of family leave was given to supervisors and managers in 2019.  It pays 50% of a worker’s salary, or up to 100% if supplemented with annual leave time, and employees don’t have to make contributions toward the program.
“It is an important benefit that our members have sought for a long time, to be able to deliver it without a payroll cost is groundbreaking,” said Ted Toppin, the union’s executive director.
The 12,600 rank-and-file employees the union represents would receive a 2.5% raise retroactive to July 1, plus a 3% raise next year and a 2% raise in 2024, according to a summary posted on the California Human Resources Department website.  The contract agreement also makes longevity pay available to engineers three years earlier, providing a 2% bump at 17 years, 3% at 18, 4% at 19 and 5.5% at 20.
Toppin said the group had been pushing for more, but reached the agreement to make sure employees got a raise this year.  The agreement’s timing gives legislators a chance to vote on it by Aug. 31, before they break until the next session begins in December.
“It’s a modest deal,” Toppin said Monday.  “Obviously the PECG team pushed for higher pay increases because inflation would seem to warrant it and the recruitment and retention needs of the state to bring on engineers to deliver on federal and state infrastructure projects are going to be huge.”

August 22, 2022

Wildlife crossings make roads safer for animals and humans – CalMatters

The Safe Roads and Wildlife Protection Act would require Caltrans and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to identify wildlife barriers and prioritize crossings when building or improving roads and highways.

Nearly 2,000 Zero-Emission Trucks & Buses On California Roads — New Data – Clean Technica

A new tool from the California Energy Commission (CEC) shows 1,943 medium- and heavy-duty zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) on the state’s roads as of July 2022, including 1,369 buses, 306 trucks and 268 delivery vans.  California is also home to 43 manufacturers of ZEVs and related equipment, including batteries and infrastructure products.  “California is the new Michigan when it comes to zero-emission vehicle manufacturing.  We are the lead state for the deployment of these vehicles, whether it’s an electric car, a fuel cell transit bus or an electric delivery van,” said CEC Commissioner Patty Monahan.

August 18, 2022

US Road Fatalities Soared in Early 2022 – Route Fifty

The number of people killed in vehicle accidents reached the highest number in 20 years during the first three months of the year, according to a government report released Wednesday.  The highest increases came in the mid-Atlantic region – Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Washington, DC – saw a 52% jump in deaths.  On the other hand, in the far western states of California, Arizona, and Hawaii road deaths collectively decreased 11% – the only region that saw a downturn. 

California urges residents to cut power use as searing heatwave grips US west – The Guardian

California has urged residents to cut power use as a searing heatwave settles over the state and stretches power supplies to a breaking point, in the latest sign of extreme weather conditions in the US west.

Bakersfield reduces water usage in June as 100% of Kern County reaches ‘Severe Drought’ levels – KERO

As the entire state looks to save every drop of water possible, California’s Central Valley is seeing the worst of the drought.  Almost all of Kern County is under the “Exceptional Drought” category, according to the state’s drought monitor.

August 15, 2022

Frenemies reunited: Newsom names former LA mayor to new post – Associated Press

California Gov. Gavin Newsom last week appointed one-time political nemesis Antonio Villaraigosa, the former Los Angeles mayor, to a new post intended to steer a gusher of federal dollars to road, port and transit projects.  Newsom announced that Villaraigosa would assume the post of “infrastructure czar,” an advisory position in which he will pursue billions of federal dollars and help pair it with needs in the state.  Technically, Villaraigosa will not be a state employee.  His position is funded through a partnership with California Forward, a nonprofit that seeks to promote job growth and cost-effective government. 

Federal Transportation Department is losing top auto safety regulator after a few months on the job – CNBC

Steven Cliff, head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, is departing next month to run the California Air Resources Board, the state’s climate agency announced on Friday.

Deadline looms for drought-stricken states to cut water use – ABC News

Seven states in the U.S. West, including California, are facing a deadline from the federal government to come up with a plan to use substantially less Colorado River water in 2023.

August 11, 2022

Fresno Caltrans worker killed in crash was a loving dad, selfless community leader –  ABC 30 (Fresno)

It would have been a night like any other for 48-year-old Ali Shabazz, a civil engineer for Caltrans on the overnight shift.  He was taking rural roads south of Mendota on his way to a job site on I-5 when the California Highway Patrol says a man in a Nissan drove right through a stop sign and crashed into the driver’s side of Ali’s truck.  Neither of the men was wearing a seat belt.  They both died at the scene of the crash.

Newsom unveils new water strategy, warning California’s supply could drop 10 percent by 2040 – The Hill

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced a set of revamped water strategies on Thursday, warning that the state’s supply is expected to plunge by up to 10 percent by 2040.  In anticipation of these shortfalls, Newsom unveiled a 16-page action document that focuses on “adapting to a hotter, drier future” by adjusting state priorities “based on new data and accelerating climate change.”

California high-speed rail wins $25 million U.S. grant, seeks $1.3 billion more – Reuters

California’s High-Speed Rail Authority said Thursday it won $25 million in new federal grant funding to advance its project beyond 119 miles under construction while pursuing an additional $1.3 billion award.  The U.S. Transportation Department (USDOT) grant will provide more than half of the estimated $41 million for a design contract to connect the cities of Madera and Merced.

Heavy-duty truck group drops lawsuit against California air regulators – Reuters

A group representing heavy-duty truck and engine companies withdrew a lawsuit over emissions standards that it filed against the California Air Resources Board (CARB), court records showed.

August 8, 2022

Caltrans project to prevent wrong-way drivers begins on I-8 – KFMB (San Diego)

Crews began wrong-way-driver-prevention upgrades along a 40-mile stretch of Interstate 8 in East County on Sunday.  Special reflective markers are being installed on I-8 ramps from East Willows Road to Ink-Ko-Pah Park Road.  The reflectors appear red to drivers headed in the wrong direction.  The project comes after three local high-profile wrong-way crashes, including one on I-5 last year that killed three people, including two San Diego police detectives who were married.  CHP investigators said the driver was going 90 miles per hour, heading the wrong way near Dairy Mart Road when the crash happened.

In dry California, salty water creeps into key waterways – Associated Press

In dry winters like the one California just had, less freshwater flows down from the mountains into the Sacramento River, the state’s largest.  That allows saltier water from Pacific Ocean tides to push further into the state’s main water hub, known as the Delta.  It helps supply water to two-thirds of the state’s 39 million people and farms that grow fruits and vegetables for the whole nation, playing a key but sometimes underappreciated role in the state’s economy.  Scientists say a drought part of the U.S. West’s driest period in 1,200 years, plus sea level rise is exposing the fragility of that system, forcing state water managers, cities, and farmers to look for new ways to stabilize their supply of fresh water.  The Delta’s challenges offer a harbinger of the risks for critical water supplies elsewhere in the nation amid a changing climate.

August 4, 2022

New oil and gas drilling in Central CA temporary blocked under settlement – ABC 7 / Associated Press

Leasing for new oil and gas drilling on federal land in central California is temporarily blocked under a settlement announced Monday between the state and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.  The deal, which still needs court approval, centers on more than 2,500 square miles of land and subsurface mineral rights owned by the federal government in California’s Central Valley, a hub for oil and gas activity.  It prohibits the federal government from leasing any of the land for drilling until it completes a fresh review of environmental harms that may be caused by fracking, a process used to extract oil and gas from rock.

California receives $631.4M to support extreme weather resilience – Transportation Today

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration recently awarded California $631.4 million over the next five years through the new Promoting Resilient Operations for Transformative, Efficient, and Cost-Saving Transportation (PROTECT) formula program.  The funding will pay for addressing at-risk highway infrastructure, making resilience improvements to existing transportation assets and evacuation routes, and resilience planning.

August 1, 2022

SANDAG explores toll alternatives on SR 125 – The Star-News

Eleven years ago, the  San Diego Association of Governments purchased the State Route 125 toll road from its private owner, Southbay Expressway, LP, to reduce soaring toll rates and quell congestion on parallel roads that drivers were taking instead.  Under SANDAG ownership, toll rates were reduced in June 2012.  Since then, traffic and revenue growth have surpassed expectations leading to a cash reserve forecast to be $107 million by FY 2027 – the first year remaining bond debt (a projected $143 million) may be retired.  SANDAG officials hope to close that $36 million gap to eliminate toll operations by then and hand over the highway’s management to Caltrans.

Will this be the year the LV-LA high-speed train leaves the station? The Las Vegas Review Journal

For years there’s been talk about a high-speed train between Las Vegas and Southern California, but that train has yet to leave the station.  A few scheduled groundbreaking dates have come and gone with no action, with the most recent one spoiled by the pandemic in 2020.  Now the company behind the project, Brightline West, is targeting the end of this year to get construction started and finally get tracks laid for what is hoped to be a transportation revolution between Southern Nevada and California.

Can Newsom finally win long Delta water conflict? CalMatters

Will the fifth time be the charm for California’s decades-long effort to replumb the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta so that more Northern California water can be transported to Southern California?