December 2023 News Items
December 7, 2023
Nearly a month after a massive fire prompted the closure of the 10 Freeway in downtown Los Angeles, Caltrans crews continued to remove flammable materials from underneath the busy interstate.
A new law expanding California’s atmospheric river research program goes into effect next year. It connects flood and reservoir control operations with new technologies and strategies that can help operators accurately predict the arrival of these storms.
Many state workers are asking when they’ll see raises that their unions won earlier this summer through contract bargaining. The short answer? Soon, but not immediately.
December 4, 2023
California water agencies serving 27 million people will get10% of the water they requested from state supplies to start 2024 due to a relatively dry fall, even though the state’s reservoirs are in good shape, state officials said Friday.
State and local governments could get a slice of up to $1.5 billion to complete critical freight and passenger transportation infrastructure projects, the Biden administration announced last week.
Brightline West, the developer of a high-speed rail connecting Las Vegas with Southern California, is teasing a groundbreaking. The company shared video on social media today of new signage and fencing bearing the Brightline West name and train design. The footage appears to have been taken on Las Vegas Boulevard where the Brightline Las Vegas station would be located.
November 2023 News Items
November 30, 2023
Ten innovative highway safety projects representing the very best of the nation’s roadway safety practices – including one by Caltrans – were honored Wednesday with National Roadway Safety Awards at a Capitol Hill ceremony. The awards were presented by the leadership of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Roadway Safety Foundation (RSF), which jointly sponsor the competition. Caltrans won for instituting a pilot program that rapidly installs wrong-way driver prevention and other safety enhancements. The approach allows Caltrans districts to implement stand-alone safety projects more quickly than through traditional means, delivering new signs, high visibility crosswalks, curve warning signs and other cost-effective safety measures within a single year.
Nearly two dozen properties underneath Los Angeles freeways were marked as potential fire hazards, including half of those near the scene of a massive fire underneath the 10 Freeway in downtown earlier this month, according to a new survey from the Los Angeles Fire Department. The underpass properties are leased out by the state, as part of the state’s Airspace and Telecommunications Licensing program. The rent generates money for the state’s highway fund and mass transportation programs.
Members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee largely supported passenger and high-speed rail in a hearing but split along party lines about California’s $128 billion project.
November 27, 2023
Artificial intelligence that can generate text, images, and other content could help improve state programs but also poses risks, according to a report released by the governor’s office last week.
California’s 280,000 acres of mountain meadows dotting the Sierra Nevada are more than pretty rest stops along arduous alpine trails. They also act like giant sponges, filtering water and slowing it down as runoff barrels down mountainsides. Yet more than 50,000 acres of meadows require restoration.
Crews mostly completed a large concrete wall along the northside of Highway 101 near Agoura Hills this month – one of the initial steps in building a first-of-its-kind wildlife crossing.
November 20, 2023
A crucial tranche of the 10 Freeway south of downtown L.A. reopened Sunday night earlier than previously expected and weeks ahead of original projections.
Over the weekend, helicopters carrying large hoops started flying around the Central Coast. “The California Department of Water Resources is flying a helicopter over the southern part of San Luis Obispo County to perform some airborne electromagnet studies,” explained Nick Teague, Water Resources Program Manager for the City of San Luis Obispo. “This helps provide data on the groundwater and the subsurface geology.”
Odds are that this winter’s going to be a wet one. The intermittent climate phenomenon known as El Niño, which typically means more rain and snow for California, developed over the summer and is expected to intensify in the next few months. And this year’s El Niño is predicted to be exceptionally strong — maybe even ranking in the top five on record, according to Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at U.C.L.A.
November 17, 2023
Earlier this week, as storm clouds began to gather off the coast and conversations in cafes started to feature the words “atmospheric river” once more, one large section of California coastline remained not quite recovered from last year’s historic storm season.
America’s first hydrogen-fueled ferry is set to launch in San Francisco early next year after more than five years in development. As the milestone nears, the vessel’s owner says it’s already looking to deploy more zero-emissions ferries nationwide — particularly in places where aging, polluting diesel boats still ply rivers, sounds and coastlines.
As California looks to prepare for ongoing periods of both drought and floods, the state’s Water Commission seeks resident input on a draft white paper titled “Potential State Strategies for Protecting Communities and Fish and Wildlife in the Event of Drought.”
November 13, 2023
More transportation and water agencies are adopting the project delivery method, according to a recent panel at the 2023 Design-Build Conference and Expo. That bill expands authority for using progressive design-build by state and local agencies in California. For instance, Caltrans and various water agencies across the Golden State are increasingly adopting the project delivery method.
California’s state government began drawing up plans for Sites Reservoir in the Sacramento Valley 70 years ago. And it still only exists on paper. So, kudos to Gov. Gavin Newsom for deciding that it’s finally time to put this tardy project on the fast track.
California and other states can enact tougher locomotive emissions standards than those imposed by the federal government, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said last week. The policy change, which goes into effect on Dec. 8, means the California Air Resources Board’s controversial locomotive emissions regulations will not run afoul of federal preemption of state and local regulations.
November 9, 2023
Staffed by California Air Resources Board personnel, pop-up roadside monitoring events are pulling over heavy-duty trucks based on their emissions.
California will be the first state to require that trains stop using diesel and other fossil fuels. The state is at the forefront of fighting climate change nationally and globally, not because it simply says, “No more greenhouse gases,” but because it develops sensible policies and timelines that target individual industries and sectors.
California is drought-free for the first time in more than three years because of a remarkably wet, snowy winter and a rare tropical storm over the summer. The last remaining traces of drought disappeared in October as autumn rainstorms grazed the state’s northwestern corner. However, the prospect of another wet winter on top of already saturated conditions is raising flood fears. Twenty-two people died in flooding last winter when nine atmospheric rivers struck the state in short succession between late December and mid-January.
November 6, 2023
The California Trucking Association has asked a federal judge to stop a state rule requiring truckers to switch to zero-emissions vehicles by 2042, calling it “a vast overreach” that threatens the industry’s survival.
The real-world costs of climate change are forcing California’s biggest public pension system to re-evaluate parts of its massive investment portfolio.
The California High-Speed Rail Authority Board received an update on its high-speed electric rail project on Thursday as it moves forward in the first phase.
November 2, 2023
After a months-long closure due to winter storm damage, a major stretch of Angeles Crest Highway has reopened, restoring public access to various trails and mountain vistas along the scenic byway through the San Gabriel Mountains.
A small but measurable percentage of Bay Area wells reached historic highs this year — more than in any other region measured by the California Department of Water Resources.
The California High-Speed Rail Authority is proposing a change to the configuration of the tracks planned for its 33-mile route from Los Angeles to Anaheim.
October 2023 News Items
October 30, 2023
Bakersfield officials recently received an update on plans for a world-class high-speed rail station in the city.
A solution to help bolster Southern California’s water outlook during future droughts is taking shape in the Mojave Desert. Water transported in canals and pipelines has begun flowing into a series of basins carved into the desert, filling a large underground reservoir that will be available to draw upon in dry times. The facility, called the High Desert Water Bank, started taking in supplies from the State Water Project last month.
California needs to reduce planet-warming gases — and quickly — if it is going to meet its ambitious climate targets and stave off the worst effects of global warming. But the amount of carbon pollution released into the atmosphere by the state’s residents actually increased last year.
October 26, 2023
The Sierra saw its first snowfall Wednesday, leading to chain requirements along Interstate 80 as well as a big question: will the roadway be ready to handle more serious winter weather?
Wet weather and planned cuts by California, Arizona and Nevada averted declines that could have threatened water deliveries and power production — but long-term threats to the Colorado River remain.
Only 50 miles of high-speed track currently exist in the U.S., but an expansion could create thousands of jobs and slash greenhouse gas emissions, says a Mineta Transportation Institute study.
October 23, 2023
The California Transportation Commission this week allocated more than $3.7 billion for projects to rebuild the state’s transportation infrastructure to enhance safety and create more convenient options for travelers. More than $2.3 billion is from the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021.
A new California law just signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom aims to close loopholes that have allowed oil drillers to walk away from wells that are no longer profitable but remain harmful. But while the Orphan Well Prevention Act will help reduce the number of abandoned and orphaned wells — currently around 5,300 — industry watchers said it does little to address the looming issue of wells that remain dormant indefinitely, some of which leak climate-warming methane and toxic fumes.
In November 2021, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the first 18 projects in the state’s plan to build a public broadband infrastructure system to help bridge the digital divide between those with access to high-speed internet and those without access. That list included underserved communities of Southeast and South Los Angeles, Oakland, and the Coachella Valley. Then, this summer, some community leaders and advocates noticed that portions of the initially proposed broadband network would no longer be built with available funds. Instead, some of the neediest communities were pushed to an unfunded “phase 2” portion of the plan.
October 19, 2023
Ocean wind farms are essential to electrify California’s grid with 100% clean energy. But they’re a giant, costly experiment — no one knows how hundreds of towering turbines will transform the remote North Coast.
On Oct. 11, U.S. Rep. Nanette Barragan (D-CA) and U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla (D-CA) led a coalition of California Congress members in urging the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to authorize a clean shipping regulation in that state. In a letter to EPA Administrator Michael Regan, the Congress members requested the EPA act on the California Air Resources Board (CARB) request from September to authorize a state regulation to require large ships to plug into shore power at ports rather than run their engines on toxic fuels.
While the earthquake that struck near Isleton Wednesday morning wasn’t strong, the location did raise questions about the possible risk to an area that is critical to the state’s water supply.
October 16, 2023
California has put a water-stressed farming region on notice for having “inadequate” plans to curb its overuse of groundwater, bringing officials closer to directly intervening in how growers manage their underground water supplies for the first time in state history.
The State of California and Swiss rolling stock manufacturer Stadler have signed an agreement for the supply of hydrogen trains this Thursday. Under the contract worth 80 million US dollars (approximately 75 million euros), Stadler will provide the California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA) and Caltrans with four hydrogen fuel cell trains, with an option to acquire up to 25 additional train sets.
Electric vehicle ownership saw its biggest single-year increase in 2023, and that trend is expected to continue. With the decline of fossil fuel tax revenue, the federal government will discuss alternatives in a scheduled hearing on Oct. 18.
October 12, 2023
California Gov. Gavin Newsom has given the green light for the state’s transportation and energy officials to figure out how to install solar panels, battery storage, and other renewable energy sites along highways.
Two bills would require large companies to disclose their supply chain emissions and report on climate-related financial risks, but the governor raised concerns about their implementation. “I am instructing [the California Air Resources Board] to closely monitor the cost impact as it implements this new bill and to make recommendations to streamline the program,” the governor said in a press statement.
Lack of rainfall is not the only measure of drought. New UC Riverside research shows that despite a series of storms, the impact of drought can persist in streams and rivers for up to 3.5 years.
October 9, 2023
Before March 2020 remote work in California government was a rare luxury reserved for a small segment of the workforce. Now, the ability to telecommute is a privilege available to about half of state employees. The share of workers ineligible for remote work has dropped close to 10 percentage points since the state first started tracking telework in October 2021. More than a third of state workers are still remote-centered, according to the latest available data from July of this year.
California likes to think of itself as a cutting-edge lab for policymaking, a place where laws get passed first and then copied around the country. But for years, it has banned a basic measure used in many cities to slow drivers: the humble speed camera. That could now change, as a bill to install cameras on a trial basis has landed on Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk at a moment when pedestrian deaths are spiking nationwide, but especially in California.
The state can’t be sued for water pollution from the breach and spill at the Oroville Dam in 2017, which led to evacuation orders for 188,000 people, a state appeals court ruled Thursday.
October 5, 2023
A top California transportation official who was reassigned last month told POLITICO she was demoted for objecting to highway expansions that will increase driving.
As California plans to respond to strengthening El Niño conditions that could bring another wet winter to the state, the Department of Water Resources is preparing for storms that could pour as much as 22 inches of rain in the Los Angeles area. That’s about 7 inches more than an average year and 10 inches more than in times of drought, the DWR said Tuesday in a briefing about its plans for storing water and staving off floods during this year’s wet season.
Federal regulators Wednesday rejected a request from two environmental groups to immediately shut down one of two reactors at California’s last nuclear power plant.
October 2, 2023
California water regulators have teed up what promises to be one of the state’s biggest debates on water in years, releasing a long-anticipated proposal to revive dozens of rivers, creeks and wetlands by reining in the draws of cities and farms.
Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a directive last week telling oil refiners to switch to the cheaper “winter blend” a month early in an effort to lower prices at the pump, and bring back competitive pricing. The state Air Resources Board approved Newsom’s directive. California refineries typically start production around Oct. 31.
Construction and diving crews are installing a new underwater – engineered by the Department of Water Resources – along a section of the Sacramento River designed to prevent endangered fish from taking a wrong turn. But it is not a physical barricade.
September 2023 News Items
September 28, 2023
The union representing state scientists has officially hit a bargaining road block with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration and could now potentially organize a strike. California’s Public Employment Relations Board released its ruling Tuesday morning, five days after the California Association of Professional Scientists filed its impasse request.
The Zone 7 Water Agency recently unveiled its new state-of-the-art water treatment facility, which will use an ion exchange treatment process to remove PFAS chemicals from the Stoneridge groundwater well in Pleasanton.
According to Zone 7 General Manager Valerie Pryor, staff had been working on getting the facility up and running for about 13 months ever since the State Water Resources Control Board announced a new draft response level for a PFAS compound that put the Stoneridge well out of service.
For years, conversations about the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act – known commonly as SGMA – have largely taken a tone of speculation and even apprehension.
The 2014 law, which aims to slow California’s unlimited tapping of underground aquifers, gives locally organized groundwater sustainability agencies until 2042 to overhaul pumping practices for the spectrum of groundwater users — from cities and rural communities to dairies, small farms and agricultural conglomerates.
September 25, 2023
The California High-Speed Rail Authority received a grant that could change the future of this project, according to an announcement made Monday. Authorities say they received a nearly $202 million grant fromthe U.S. Department of Transportation to expand the construction of the high-speed rail by completing a six-grade separation.
Sometimes the obvious solution is the obvious solution, even if it takes California a couple decades to realize it.
Following numerous complaints from the public, a multi-year investigation and an adjudicative proceeding conducted by its Administrative Hearings Office, the State Water Resources Control Board has adopted an order requiring BlueTriton Brands Inc. to immediately cease its unauthorized diversions from springs in the San Bernardino National Forest for waterbottling purposes.
September 21, 2023
Even though California enacted sweeping legislation nearly a decade ago to curb excessive agricultural pumping of groundwater, new research predicts that thousands of drinking water wells could run dry in the Central Valley by the time the law’s restrictions take full effect in 2040.
The California Legislature has passed a first-of-its-kind wave and tidal energy bill that directs the California Energy Commission to evaluate the feasibility, costs, and benefits of using wave and tidal energy across the Golden State’s 840-mile coastline.
September 18, 2023
If California’s state payroll system were a person, it would be nearing its 70th birthday this year. Like some septuagenarians, the payroll system periodically finds itself struggling to keep pace in the modern age. Unions, workers and lawmakers alike have taken turns over the years bashing the system for delays in payroll changes and occasional pay mistakes. In the last six years, two different state worker unions have either taken or threatened legal action against the state due to delayed raises.
The recently added part-time lane on Interstate 15 southbound just past the Nevada-California border seems to be doing its job. The lane has helped relieve some traffic congestion during its first weekend of operation.
Two new bills have been passed in California as part of a “Climate Accountability Package” that require U.S.-based companies “doing business” in California to make disclosures about their emissions and climate-related financial risks. These are the Climate Corporate Data Accountability Act (California Senate Bill 253 (SB-253) and the Climate-Related Financial Risk Act (California Senate Bill 261 (SB-261). The laws remain subject to approval by the California Governor (who has until October 14, 2023, to sign or veto them).
September 14, 2023
A travel ban on government workers that was once meant to show solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community could soon be repealed if Governor Gavin Newsom signs a bill headed to his desk. Senate Bill 447 by state Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins, a San Diego Democrat, puts a new program in the place of the lifted travel ban: the BRIDGE (Building and Reinforcing Inclusive, Diverse, and Gender-supportive Equality) Project. That program will encourage acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community and create a fund that can go toward nonpartisan messaging to discourage discrimination.
Death Valley National Park is expected to partially reopen by Oct. 15, the National Park Service said Wednesday. The Californiapark’s reopening coincides with the reopening of a portion of its main highway, state Route 190, which closed last month after severe flooding from Tropical Storm Hilary.
Major corporations from oil and gas companies to retail giants would have to disclose their direct greenhouse gas emissions as well as those that come from activities like employee business travel under legislation passed Monday by California lawmakers, the most sweeping mandate of its kind in the nation.
September 11, 2023
California legislators have passed a bill that aims to close a long-standing loophole in the state’s water laws: Until now, regulators haven’t had clear authority to investigate the water rights of some of the biggest water users.
The California Air Resources Board’s controversial Advanced Clean Fleets rule requires a phased-in transition toward zero-emission medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, but concerns are growing that the state is falling behind in its ability to provide enough charging options to meet its own aggressive targets.
The California High-Speed Rail Authority (Authority) – in partnership with Caltrans and the Los Angeles Railroad Heritage Foundation –has installed a new display telling the story of rail travel’s past, present and future in California. The installation is located at Philippe The Original, the landmark Los Angeles restaurant founded in 1908.
September 7, 2023
With California facing a hotter and drier future —punctuated by bouts of extreme weather — state officials are moving forward with a new framework for urban water use that could require some suppliers to make cuts of 20% or more as soon as 2025.
The California Department of Transportation, or Caltrans, has chosen 90 transportation projects throughout the state to award $41.6 million in its annual planning grants for fiscal year 2023-24.
Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, 80 times more potent at warming the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. In 2014, a California law required statewide methane emissions to be cut by 40 percent by 2030 from 2013 levels. Currently, the local natural gas utility estimates that methane emissions in the Los Angeles area are decreasing at a rate of about 5.8 percent per year. However, a new Caltech study shows that methane emissions in the region are dropping at a much slower pace: 1.6 percent per year over the past decade. The findings indicate that more significant methane reduction efforts are needed to meet target levels
September 5, 2023
High-speed rail is coming to America, and working people should take notice. The Biden Administration plans to use funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to construct multiple high-speed rail lines. This is a very big deal for American workers. The high-speed rail projects now underway in California, Nevada and Texas are becoming the largest infrastructure projects in the country.
Gov. Gavin Newsom has appointed a consumer protection regulator to become California’s new state oil and gas supervisor, filling a politically sensitive position with an existing state employee with no apparent oil-field experience. Douglas “Doug” Ito served most recently as director of the California Public Utilities Commission’s Consumer Protection and Enforcement Division. He worked earlier at the California Air ResourcesBoard after earning a master’s degree in transportation technology and policy at the University of California, Davis.
Water level charts shared online show an impressive redemption story for Lake Shasta and Lake Oroville in northern California. California’s drought situation has reversed from this time last year, when 97 percent of the state was battling severe drought. Now, nearly 94 percent of the Golden State is completely free from drought, according to a map by the U.S. Drought Monitor.
August 2023 News Items
August 31, 2023
A California highway prone to congestion — where 18 miles of gridlock slammed holiday travel last year — has a new lane to help mitigate traffic, but it’s a temporary adjustment that’s only available for certain drivers.
Presidential advisors are calling for creating a “Department of Water” to confront what they say are rapidly evolving water crises.
The California Air Resources Board announced the opening of this year’s Innovative Small E-Fleet voucher incentive set-aside, offering $83 million in assistance for small fleets transitioning to cleaner vehicles. The funding assistance program is part of the state’s Clean Truck and Bus Voucher Incentive program and will open for voucher requests starting Aug. 30.
August 28, 2023
California’s transportation infrastructure is no longer considered “high-risk,” 16 years after it was added to an inauspicious list by the California State Auditor. California’s transportation infrastructure was considered “deteriorating” when it was added to the Auditor’s list in May 2007. Following its inclusion on the list, Caltrans and the California Transportation Commission went to work with a major boon coming from the passage of Senate Bill 1, the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017.
California’s high-speed rail authority has taken a significant step towards procuring its first high-speed trainsets, bringing high-speed rail to California nearer to reality, by approving a Request for Qualifications for the nation’s first 220 miles-per-hour electrified trainsets. Also in California, Swiss manufacturer Stadler made an agreement with Caltrain for the first battery train for the American market.
August 24, 2023
A California bill that has passed the State Assembly and now faces the Senate Appropriations Committee would codify an executive order requiring California Department of Transportation projects to aim to reduce vehicle miles traveled, or at least not contribute significantly to VMT growth.
California carbon emissions are as valuable as they’ve ever been. Last week’s auction of greenhouse gas permits fetched $35.20 per ton, according to figures released by the state today. The high price indicates that companies are spooked by the state’s plan to eventually tighten its emissions cap.
This summer period so far has seen intense rains across the region from Storm Hilary, which battered California in recent days. The storm hit California on Sunday, where it caused flooding in major cities like Los Angeles and other areas. Seeing as the West has suffered from intense drought, many questioned whether the storm would help replenish the region’s reservoirs, which have been declining in recent years. However it does not appear to have made much difference to the reservoirs.
August 21, 2023
California received a one-two punch from Mother Nature as Tropical Storm Hilary unleashed torrential record rains and flooding across Southern California, and an earthquake struck near Ojai — all during what has historically been the state’s wildfire season. The wild weekend prompted Gov. Gavin Newsom to head south, declaring a storm state of emergency even before crews began struggling to respond across a wide swath of the state. The state deployed 7,500 personnel in Southern California —including 3,900 Highway Patrol officers and 2,000 Caltrans workers — to aid local communities, and it dispatched resources for swift water rescue teams in high-risk areas.
After three of the driest years in California history, much of the state is currently free of drought conditions, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Heavy winter rain and record amounts of snow in the Sierra Nevada mountains have filled many of the state’s reservoirs well above historical averages, according to California Water Watch, a daily tracker maintained by the California Department of Water Resources.
California has pinned its clean energy future to offshore wind, setting in motion a decade-long domino chain of planning, permitting, and building that needs to fall just right for the effort to succeed. But first, the state needs to figure out how to pay for it.
August 17, 2023
Caltrans District 11 will begin installing memorial signs in roadside rest areas along state highways in San Diego and Imperial counties to honor the 21 District 11 workers who have died in the line of duty and to encourage travelers to drive responsibly, it was announced Tuesday.
California officials agreed this week to extend operations at three natural gas plants on the Southern California coast in an effort to shore up California’s straining power grid and avoid rolling blackouts. The controversial and unanimous vote that keeps the plants open came from the State Water Resources Control Board, which oversees the phaseout of natural gas facilities that suck in seawater and kill marine life.
Progress on California’s High-Speed Rail has kicked up in recent years as environmental hurdles were cleared, and the High-Speed Rail Authority hopes to have the Central Valley segment, which will connect Merced to Bakersfield, completed by 2030 (give or take). But what would it take to get the entire project — Bay Area to Los Angeles — completed even sooner? Maybe as soon as 2028 in time for the Olympics?
August 14, 2023
Temperatures in many California cities are cooling down this week, but a debate is simmering on how to generate enough electricity to power the state through extreme weather events while transitioning away from a reliance on fossil fuels.
Billions of federal tax dollars are going toward fixing worn-out bridges coast to coast, but a Scripps News investigation using newly released federal data shows it won’t be nearly enough to touch thousands of bridges that are corroded, cracked and at a heightened risk of being shut down for safety.
August 10, 2023
The Biden administration’s environmental justice office is investigating whether California’s water agency has discriminated against Native Americans and other people of color by failing to protect the water quality of San Francisco Bay and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s investigation was triggered by a complaint filed by tribes and environmental justice organizations that says the state Water Resources Control Board, for over a decade, “has failed to uphold its statutory duty” to review and update water quality standards in the Bay-Delta.
As forecasters sound the alarm about another potentially wet California winter fueled by El Niño, Gov. Gavin Newsom is taking urgent but controversial measures to prevent a repeat of the devastating floods that befell the state this year.
The seventh high-speed rail structure, located just south of Wasco, has been completed, the California High-Speed Rail Authority announced Wednesday.
August 7, 2023
Caltrans is unveiling more than two dozen state-of-the-artfull-color overhead highway message boards along the US 50 corridor in El Dorado and Sacramento counties, I5 in Sacramento County and State Highways 70 and 99 in Butte County. Caltrans District 3 engineers this month are conducting final tests on the 28 new color-changeable message signs, the first of their kind in the state at a cost of about $2.5 million.
As California faces climate change and a future with bigger storms and longer droughts, the challenges before us lead to an often-asked question: Should we make some of our existing dams bigger?
There are more than 2.5 times as many publicly available electric vehicle chargers today as there were three years ago, slightly outpacing the growth of EVs on the roads during that time. But the rollout has been far from even. California leads the country in the sheer number of public chargers added. With nearly 9,000 coming on line in the last three years, California nearly tripled the number of EV chargers installed in New York, which saw the second most added.
August 3, 2023
Controversial and sweeping clean-air regulations California was moving to implement on trucking fleets in the state have been put on hold, with a new call for public feedback and the proposed creation of an industry working group.
A CalPERS service provider, Pension Benefits Information, is facing a new class-action lawsuit after it disclosed a breach of retirees’ and beneficiaries’ personal information, part of a widespread attack by a Russian ransomware gang.
Californians could drink highly purified sewage water piped directly into drinking water supplies for the first time under proposed rules unveiled by state water officials.
July 2023 News Items
July 31, 2023
California state employees in 22 departments spend more than 90% of their days working remotely, according to Department of General Services data from its dashboard. Many departments allow some employees to work remotely, but few state employees can still do their jobs from home 100% of the time.
Many state jobs can’t be performed remotely though, especially in prisons, hospitals, and other public safety departments. Most agencies have at least a few jobs that can only be done in person. The Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, which reported the largest number of total state workers in the dashboard, only allows about 12% of its more than 37,000 employees to work remotely. In contrast, Caltrans, the second-largest department to report data, allows about 60% of its nearly 22,000-person workforce to work remotely.
Two Bay Area underground basins have been approved by the state for their plans to maintain their water supplies, the California Department of Water Resources announced this week.
July 27, 2023
At more than 400,000 square feet, the California Air Resources Board’s new emissions lab is the largest zero-net energy building in the U.S., quadruple the size of the old building in El Monte. CARB says it’s always on the lookout for car manufacturers who try to cheat the system.
California’s state agencies, superior courts and universities paid over $27 billion in wages to almost 400,000 employees in 2022, according to data released Tuesday by the State Controller’s Office. State agencies paid just over $22 billion to 260,183 employees, while the California State University system paid $4.2 billion to 118,282 employees and superior courts paid $1.5 billion to 18,748 employees. The top three highest-paid state agencies, according to the Controller’s office, were the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Caltrans and the California Highway Patrol.
July 24, 2023
A stretch of Highway 1 near the Paul’s Slide site in Monterey County will be closed for the foreseeable future, Caltrans said Friday.
California officials unveiled a plan to permanently seal some of the state’s more than 5,000 orphaned oil wells, including dozens nestled among Kern County neighborhoods that have been the focus of advocate attention for decades.
The McCombs Road overcrossing north of Wasco is the fifth structure to be completed this year for the California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA), whose 119-mile Central Valley segment is under construction.
July 20, 2023
The California Public Employees’ Retirement System reported a preliminary net return of 5.8% on its investments for the 12 months ending June 30, beating its benchmark’s return of 5.5% to raise its asset value to $462.8 billion. According to CalPERS, its estimated funded status is currently 72%.
$441M SR 57/60 Intersection Project Starts in Los Angeles County – ENR California (tiered subscription)
Work is underway on the final and most important phase of a project in eastern Los Angeles County that aims to relieve congestion in the worst truck bottleneck in California. Officials broke ground earlier this month on Phase III of the State Route 57/60 Confluence project in Diamond Bar and the City of Industry.
The plan to build a high-speed train connecting Las Vegas with Southern California took another important step last week when the FederalRail Authority completed its environmental review for a portion of the project and found “no significant impact” along one of the critical sections of the proposed track.
July 17, 2023
The federal website aims to help cities, states and EV charging stakeholders plan and finance electric mobility infrastructure.
A $25 million project at a Calpine Corp. power plant near San Francisco will test a technology that could capture 95% of a plant’s carbon emissions, a process California Air Resources Board officials say is critical to the state’s climate fight.
July 13, 2023
CalPERS health insurance policyholders will likely see their premiums grow by more than 11% on average next year, according to preliminary prices that the board of the nation’s largest pension fund will consider at its meeting next week in Monterey.
Caltrans began work Tuesday on a $39 million project to improve safety and ease congestion between Sacramento International Airport(SMF) and the Interstate 5-Highway 50 interchange.
The California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) has selected Arup as the sustainability program manager for its planned 500-mile Phase 1 system from San Francisco to Los Angeles/Anaheim. Leading a team of 12 consultants, Arup is charged with renewable energy modeling and procurement, climate change adaptation and resilience, setting sustainable design criteria, managing greenhouse gas and air quality emissions, carbon offsetting, and sustainability reporting.
July 10, 2023
California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) on Monday signed into law a package of infrastructure bills that aim to cut the red tape associated with building new projects, while also ensuring environmental protection.
With temperatures on the rise, lakes are filling up fast and getting close to capacity.
Some of the largest truck manufacturers in the country have struck a deal with California, accepting the state’s plan to ban the sale of new diesel big rigs by 2036. The so-called Clean Truck Partnership was reached between the California Air Resources Board and companies, including General Motors and Daimler Truck North America.
July 6, 2023
California lawmakers on Wednesday approved Gov. GavinNewsom’s infrastructure package that aims to make it easier and faster to build renewable energy, water, and transportation projects in the state
Time may be running out on the ability for state employees to use the TikTok app on their cell phones if a bill by California Sen. BillDodd, D-Napa, makes its way to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk. The bipartisan-supported bill, which passed the California Senate on May 30, aims to bolster cybersecurity at a time when government devices have been targeted, the measure’s proponents contend.
CalPERS pensioners David Berry and Bonnie Gayle Ng filed a lawsuit Friday in San Francisco federal court for damages they suffered due to a data breach that exposed their names, social security numbers, birth dates, and other personally identifiable information. The lawsuit seeks class-action status on behalf of all California residents whose data was stolen in May from PBI Research Services+ Berwyn Group, alleging that the companies did not maintain reasonable security measures or adequately protect California residents’ privacy.
A private-sector plan for a new passenger rail line connecting Las Vegas with Southern California has attracted new funding from the Federal government.
July 3, 2023
Unless you’re driving past the immense concrete columns rising along Central Valley roadways in communities like Fresno, the notion of high-speed rail coming to California can seem abstract. Out of sight, out of mind. But as construction of the first 119 miles lumbers forward in the Central Valley, another key aspect of the mammoth, multi-decade project is gearing up in San Francisco: design work on the valley’s four stations. Structures that will need to function with intuitive ease — and symbolize the arrival of a new form of transportation in the nation’s most populous state.
Before dangerous driving surged during the pandemic, the number of wrong-way deaths has been increasing. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety estimated that 500 people a year died in those types of collisions on divided highways between 2015 and 2018, up from 375 annual deaths in the five previous years. And wrong-way crashes are particularly deadly, because they involve two or more vehicles traveling at high speeds smashing into each other. That’s prompted states all over the country to look for ways to reverse the trend, often relying on new technology to do so.
June 2023 News Items
June 29, 2023
Gov. Gavin Newsom this week signed Senate Bill 101 omnibus, formalizing the approval of the $310.8 billion state budget. The legislation outlines hundreds of millions for broadband expansion and IT efforts in the state.
The California High-Speed Rail Authority has received $20 million to support the Fresno High-Speed Rail Station Historic Depot Renovation and Plaza Activation Project. The funding has been granted under the Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) program.
California’s state treasurer this week called for the boards of CalPERS and CalSTRS to take action after the personal information of more than 1 million retired members was exposed in a data breach.
June 26, 2023
An Arizona-based conservation group filed a notice to sue the Oregon and California state transportation agencies over the impact on vulnerable salmon populations of a toxic chemical used in car tires. The letter – filed last week by the Center for Biological Diversity – argues that these state agencies haven’t properly considered the effects of this 6PPD chemical on waterways.
Legislators, advocates, policy nerds, and reporters waited all weekend, but the big announcement of a budget deal between Gov. Gavin Newsom and legislative leaders never came. It appears that the hold-up remains Governor Newsom’s demand that it include his proposal to overhaul the permitting process for major infrastructure projects — including the highly controversial Delta tunnel project — by changing the California Environmental Quality Act. The governor wants to streamline the permitting process among federal, state, and local governments; limit the time courts have to hear challenges on environmental reviews; and increase funding to state agencies.
As state lawmakers haggle over the next iteration of the budget, members of California’s largest state worker union are scrambling to finalize a new contract before their current deal expires Friday — the same day as the state’s budget deadline. Service Employees International Union Local 1000 proposed a 30% pay raise over the life of a three-year contract, with state workers earning a 12% bump in the first year and 9% in the second and third years. The union represents about 100,000 workers in jobs as diverse as prison librarians, janitorial staff, and educators at California’s schools for deaf and blind students. Facing an estimated $32 billion budget shortfall, the state offered 2% raises each year for a total of 6% overall — an offer that members of the SEIU bargaining team called “insulting.”
CalPERS experienced a third-party cybersecurity breach affecting the personal information of 769,000 retirees, said David Miller, chairman of CalPERS’ risk and audit committee, at Wednesday’s meeting. The breach involved PBI Research Services/Berwyn Group, which assists the $456.6 billion pension fund with confirming members’ deaths to ensure proper payment and guard against overpayment. Impacted retirees and their beneficiaries will be given two years of credit monitoring and additional steps they can take to protect their information.
The California High Speed Rail Authority has released a new animation that shows what the train will look like entering the proposed upgraded and expanded Union Station in Downtown Los Angeles.
How do you create a convincing span of nature over one of the state’s busiest freeway corridors so wildlife like L.A.’s famous, ill-fated cougar, P-22, can cross unscathed?
June 19, 2023
California lawmakers voted Thursday to approve an amended version of the 2023 state budget bill but will continue discussing the final terms of the legislation with Gov. Gavin Newsom (D). The main point of contention between Newsom and his Democratic colleagues is the governor’s push to streamline major infrastructure projects and reduce regulatory red tape.
The railroad industry on June 16 sued to block new environmental rules in California, arguing they would force the premature retirement of about 25,000 diesel-powered locomotives across the country long before their zero-emission counterparts are ready to take their place.
California’s second-largest reservoir is unrecognizable compared to photos taken just a few years ago — a reassuring sight for Californians accustomed to exposed lake beds due to years of drought.
June 15, 2023
California Gov. Gavin Newsom is pushing the state Legislature to tackle what has long been one of the biggest gripes about government: taking far too long to build things like roads and bridges.
The California Department of Water Resources has announced another round of funding through the Small Community Drought Relief Program. The money helps support smaller communities through extreme climate shifts by helping with well rehabilitation, replacement of pipelines, and upgrades to infrastructure.
A debate has arisen over trade-offs the White House faces in meeting two major goals: tackling climate change while creating factory jobs in the United States. With high-speed rail — as with electric cars and solar panels — some question whether the U.S. can accomplish both.
June 13, 2023
A sprawling cattle ranch near Santa Clara and San Benito County border could become home to a unique overpass, not for cars, but for wildlife. The nonprofit Land Trust of Santa Cruz County spent $17 million to buy a 2,600-acre property near San Juan Bautista and is now working with Caltrans on plans for an animal overcrossing over four lanes of speeding traffic on Highway 101.
The results are in: As California endured its three driest years on record, urban water users made a significant effort to conserve water but fell far short of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s request to reduce their use by 15%.
California has seen a huge amount of water returned to its drought-hit soils because of intense storms and huge snowmelt since the beginning of 2023. Data from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On (GRACE-FO) satellite mission, a partnership between NASA and the German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ), shows that California has just seen its greatest year-over-year water gains in two decades.
June 8, 2023
Shasta Lake in Shasta County and Lake Oroville in Butte County, where much of Northern California’s water is stored, are at 98% and 99% of their total capacity, respectively, for the first time in five years, according to data from the state Department of Water Resources.
Nineteen states have sought appellate court review in a challenge to the Environmental Protection Agency waiver granted to California’s Advanced Clean Trucks Rule. Ultimately at issue in the filing by the states is a major question: With some other states having vowed to follow California’s lead on clean vehicles and emission rules, does California effectively set the standard for the entire country?
The southern route into Big Sur on Highway 1 will be closed for several months, Caltrans says in an update on the progress to clear debris from a major landslide this past winter.
June 5, 2023
By summer, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority is expected to release a blueprint for a congestion-pricing scheme where motorists pay to drive through certain high-frequency highway routes. The California Department of Transportation has hired an expert to oversee the pricing of roadways. The Federal Highway Administration is plans to weigh in with an advisory committee to establish the parameters for the pilot program.
Three bills gaining momentum in the Legislature seek to empower the State Water Resources Control Board to verify whether claims of senior water rights are valid, order those water users to reduce usage, and impose large enough fines to penalize those who flout the rules.
California, Hawaii, Washington, Texas and Alabama are taking steps to prohibit state and local government agencies from using Chinese-manufactured drones. In March, Arkansas became the latest state to ban the usage of Chinese drones by state and local agencies in response to cybersecurity concerns. Florida, Mississippi, and Tennessee have laws restricting government agencies’ use of Chinese-manufactured drones, following earlier actions by the Department of Defense and other federal agencies.
June 1, 2023
The California Air Resources Board last week approved a landmark ban on the use of hexavalent chromium by the chrome plating industry. The ban requires companies, who opposed the action, to use alternative materials.
The California Dept. of Water Resources (DWR) and the Central Valley Flood Protection Board (CVFPB) called for the combined investment from federal, state, and local agencies to meet the recommendations of the Central Valley Flood Protection Plan (CVFPP) 2022 Update. The plan would require an investment of $25 billion to $30 billion over the next 30 years, officials say.
The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) said it is carrying out extensive repairs on State Route 2 in the Angeles National Forest, with parts of the route expected to remain closed until the end of summer due to winter storm damage.
May 2023 News Items
May 30, 2023
A recent American Public Works Association (APWA) report found that American communities benefit from water, surface transportation, and emergency management funding. The report found every $1 invested in transportation returns $5 in economic benefits, with every $1 billion supporting the creation of 50,000 jobs. That $1 billion also more than doubles business sales and creates a 20 percent increase in GDP.
Electric vehicle-charging startups are racing to cash in on California’s drive to electrify truck fleets in the state. A clutch of companies are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to lease or buy land, install charging infrastructure, and in some cases even order dozens of heavy-duty electric trucks to jump-start the nascent industry.
California’s state senate on Thursday overwhelmingly approved a ban on fossil fuel investments by the pension funds representing state employees and state teachers. The bill blocks CalPERS and CalSTRS from investing in the 200 largest publicly traded fossil fuel companies.
May 25, 2023
California has asked the Biden administration to approve its plan to require all new vehicles sold in the state by 2035 to be either electric or plug-in electric hybrids, a landmark move that could speed the end of gasoline-powered vehicles, according to a letter seen by Reuters.
Famous historic sites, low-income apartments, and Twitter’s headquarters all appear on a previously unpublished draft list of 3,407 concrete buildings in San Francisco that may be at high risk of collapse in a major earthquake, according to a copy of a city government document obtained by NBC News through a public records request.
Tulare Lake, less than an hour’s drive from downtown Fresno, was at one point the largest body of freshwater west of the Mississippi. Settlers and farmers living in the region used its waters for irrigation and for consumption. By the early 1900s, the lake was depleted, leaving behind a dusty bed. Now, approximately 120 years later, run-off from a series of massive winter storms that hit California is breathing new life into the lake, and expanding it to more than 180 square miles — or approximately the size of Lake Tahoe.
The nation’s two most prominent high-speed rail projects are the California effort to connect Los Angeles and San Francisco — the first segment is under construction — and the proposed Brightline West project between Las Vegas and Southern California. Both want to tap the nearly $4.6 billion in federal funds available for the 2022-2023 fiscal years. But studies and planning are underway for several other projects in Georgia and Texas, and California’s High Desert Corridor Joint Powers Agency is backing a proposed high-speed rail line to connect Palmdale and other high desert cities with the future Brightline West corridor and the California high-speed rail system.
May 22, 2023
California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday announced an effort to save money and speed up the amount of time it takes to finish transportation, environmental and other infrastructure projects across California.
Arizona, California and Nevada have agreed to take less water from the drought-strained Colorado River, a breakthrough agreement that, for now, keeps the river from falling so low that it would jeopardize water supplies for major Western cities like Phoenix and Los Angeles as well as for some of America’s most productive farmland.
Brightline West envisions opening its decade-plus-in-the-making high-speed rail line between Las Vegas and Southern California by the time the 2028 Olympics Games in Los Angeles begin.
May 18, 2023
Construction isn’t expected to start until 2025, but Caltrans officials are asking for community input now as they prepare for a project that will close or reduce lanes on the Vincent Thomas Bridge for nine months or longer. The historic 6,000-foot span is the only way to access Terminal Island and the Port of Long Beach from the west, and the 60-year-old suspension bridge needs a full deck replacement.
Mountains are capped with record snowpack, rolling hills are covered in a rainbow of wildflowers, reservoirs are filled to the brim, and rivers are rushing with snowmelt. The storms this winter have helped restore reservoirs, but the state should continue building long-term water resilience, said Jeanine Jones, the interstate resources manager for the California Department of Water Resources.
California plans to build an electric train connecting Los Angeles with the Central Valley and then San Francisco in two hours and 40 minutes. But 15 years later, there is not a single mile of track laid, and executives involved say there isn’t enough money to finish the project. Still, there has been progress.
May 15, 2023
With the looming melt on the horizon, the ever-important Corcoran levee holding floodwaters at bay in Kings County will receive a substantial boost from the state. California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced last week that the state will pay $17 million to cover the costs to raise the levee on the edge of the reformed Tulare Lake.
Although massive storms during the winter brought desperately needed precipitation throughout the Golden State, water experts and state officials remain focused on preparing for the inevitable next drought. Based on lessons learned in recent years, they’re refilling the state’s over-drafted groundwater aquifers and encouraging water efficiency among residents learning to live with climate change.
I feel like a proud papa. My community, along with a bunch of civic, private and local agencies, is creating the world’s largest (and one of a very few) wild animal crossings over a busy 10-lane freeway, Highway 101.
May 11, 2023
Caltrans held its annual Workers Memorial Ceremony on Wednesday in Fresno to remember highway workers and other employees who have lost their lives while on the job, including Ali Shabazz. In August 2022, Shabazz – a longtime PECG member – was killed when he was involved in a fatal traffic collision while en route to a job site.
Thanks to heavy rainfall across northern California over the past few days, Lake Shasta’s water level is now higher than it has been in years.
For the first time, the report examines causes behind chronically failing water systems and incorporates customers’ ability to pay into its risk analysis.
May 8, 2023
State lawmakers and Gov. Gavin Newsom have been bracing for the first significant budget shortfall for the first time in about a decade. The problem could be compounded further by a collision course of concerns, including the federal reserve continuing to raise interest rates to slow inflation, recent major bank failures, and the national debt ceiling dilemma that remains unresolved in Washington, D.C.
A 500-foot-long stretch of highway in California has become a testing ground for another innovative use of recycled plastic in asphalt pavement. And so far, it’s withstood heavy tractor-trailer traffic and flooding.
In California, where epic Sierra Nevada snowpack and “the Big Melt” have substantially increased the stakes for reservoir managers, officials say they’re taking steps to protect the state’s water systems from hackers, terrorist attacks and natural disasters, such as the flooding that temporarily severed the Los Angeles Aqueduct — the city’s water lifeline to the Owens Valley. But experts say the challenges are numerous. Many of the systems in California and nationwide are still operating with outdated software, poor passwords, aging infrastructure, and other weaknesses that could leave them at risk.
A design studio contracted through the state of California released some new images of what some of the stations along the California high-speed rail could look like.
May 4, 2023
The last piece of the massive Bay Bridge reconstruction will open Sunday, almost 10 years after the main span bearing Interstate 80 began carrying traffic.
Dirt for the California High-Speed Rail project near flood lands created by the refilling Tulare Lake is being diverted to help build levees and raise roadways in the area. The rail authority also plans to reopen Angiola Canal in Tulare County, flood some reservoirs on high-speed rail property, and provide k-rail to local counties for road closures. In addition, equipment brought into the area to build the rail line is being used to prevent more flooding.
May 1, 2023
Caltrans dignitaries, employees, families, and friends gathered on Thursday on the west steps of the State Capitol for the 33rd annual Workers Memorial to honor the memory of 191 roadway workers who have died in the line of duty since 1921.
California regulators on Friday voted to ban the sale of new diesel big rigs by 2036 and require all trucks to be zero-emissions by 2042, putting the state at the forefront of mitigating national tailpipe pollution.
Years of land subsidence have created unique problems for California’s water infrastructure.
April 2023 News Items
April 27, 2023
On Tuesday, San Francisco — a bastion of gay and transgender inclusion — repealed its boycott on doing business with 30 states that had passed laws targeting L.G.B.T.Q. rights or that had passed abortion restrictions or laws deemed to suppress voters. California may follow suit by rescinding a similar prohibition on state-funded travel to identified states.
Several California government transportation agencies are proposing a new toll for Highway 37 between Sonoma and Solano counties to pay for projects to reduce congestion. The California Transportation Commission is working in partnership with Caltrans and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s express lanes authority. The proposal is a part of the Sears Point to Mare Island Improvement Project.
California’s leading air quality regulator will soon vote on whether to ban the sale of new diesel big rigs by 2036 and switch all trucks in the state to zero-emission by 2042, unprecedented rules that would transform California’s trucking industry.
Billionaire investor and sports team owner Wes Edens wants to get you from Los Angeles to Vegas in about two hours with a $12 billion that he says will drag the U.S. into the high-speed train age. And his approach to building U.S. bullet trains is simple and differs dramatically from that taken by the struggling California High-Speed Rail Authority: situate them along existing highway corridors and lay steel tracks on the ground rather than on costly viaducts.
April 24, 2023
The $12 billion Brightline West high-speed rail system is on track to break ground later this year, according to a company spokesman. Over the last decade, Southern Nevadans have heard that groundbreaking is coming “soon” on various iterations of the Las Vegas-to-Southern California high-speed rail project. Last week, Brightline and the Nevada Department of Transportation applied to acquire up to $3.75 billion in Federal-State Partnership Program grant money to go toward construction of the system, Brightline spokesman Ben Porritt said. The money is part of the U.S. infrastructure bill. The remaining cost would be paid by tax-exempt private activity bond allocations from Nevada ($800 million), California ($2.4 billion), and private capital.
At least one of California’s reservoirs is now at capacity for the first time in years, according to data from the California Department of Water Resources.
April 20, 2023
The California Department of Water Resources announced Thursday the statewide water allocation was to be raised to 100% for the first since 2006. This is, of course, an increase from last month’s initial allocation of 75%. The DWR cited reservoirs nearing capacity thanks to the record snowfall seen this past winter as the driver for the lack of restrictions of water deliveries this upcoming summer.
Another project broke ground on Highway 1 in Santa Cruz County, meant to help the flow of pedestrian and vehicle traffic. The $100 million multimodal corridor project has three phases, including the first bus-on-shoulder highway lane in the state.
California is accelerating its push to phase out fossil-fuel-powered vehicles, targeting heavy-duty truck fleets delivering packages and most trains operating in the state. Next week, the California Air Resources Board will likely approve final regulations affecting both sectors. Potential repercussions extend beyond the nation’s most populous state.
April 17, 2023
In San Diego, 10 of 136 bridges inspected by federal officials are rated to be in “poor” condition. Seventy-nine are in “fair” condition, and 47 are in “good” condition. A city spokesperson said, “The City of San Diego and Caltrans continue to work closely together to ensure the safety of bridges in the city. All of these bridges carry vehicle traffic and are inspected by Caltrans once every two years. The City monitors and maintains these bridges at least once every two years.” In a written response to questions, Caltrans said, “A poor rating is not an indication that the bridge is unsound. The traveling public’s safety is our priority, and Caltrans will take immediate action if needed.”
After weeks of rain, the long-dry Tulare Lake is rising from the San Joaquin Valley floor, endangering farms, towns, and livelihoods. Now record snow on the Sierra Nevada is melting. Will the Central Valley be ready?
April 13, 2023
Closely mirroring California’s landmark mandate, the Biden administration on Tuesday proposed new greenhouse gas emission standards that will scale up sales of electric cars and trucks nationwide. If enacted, the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed standards would be among the most stringent and aggressive measures the federal agency has ever taken to slash planet-warming tailpipe pollution, clean up dirty air and tackle climate change.
The Biden administration on Tuesday released a highly anticipated analysis of the Colorado River crisis that paints a dire picture of what that river system’s collapse would portend for the West’s major cities, farmers, and Native tribes.
California’s high-speed rail project has reached a critical point as lawmakers must decide whether to seek more federal aid to finish the first segment, under construction in the state’s agricultural center.
April 10, 2023
Highway 395 in California’s Sierra Nevada has reopened to car traffic without restrictions nearly six weeks after a series of avalanches buried a portion of the roadway with almost 40 feet of snow. The announcement from Caltrans, the state’s transportation department, is a major reprieve for residents in Sierra communities who were effectively cut off from one another by the highway closure.
When you turn on the tap, how confident are you that clean water will flow? Are you that certain about water access in five years? In 10? How about 20? Perhaps the most consequential impact of the climate crisis is how it will affect our access to reliable, clean drinking water. California has been through the wringer in the last decade with extreme heat, record drought, historic wildfires, and, most recently, devastating flooding — all of which can and have affected some residents’ access to water. But to what extent do Californians perceive the risks such events pose to their water supplies? “Whether perceived or not by water users, these climate change-driven extreme weather events have clear implications for California household water access,” climate scientists wrote in a new study.
Since 2012, the Colorado Department of Transportation has spent $4.1 billion on construction projects that bypassed strict low-bid practices and lacked sound spending policies, which resulted in statutory violations and payments above fair market value, a Colorado state auditor report concluded. The reason for the lapses: A 10-year-old Colorado law that prompted growth in “alternative delivery methods” that approved using a “design-build process” and a “construction manager/general contractor” programs that allow state officials to shortlist competitors for a project and drastically reduce the pool of contractors seeking to win work.
April 6, 2023
Fifteen miles of Highway 1 along the Big Sur Coast is set to reopen this week, according to a press release sent by Caltrans on Wednesday. Officials say crews are working seven days a week to make all necessary repairs, shore up potential landslide areas, reduce the closure limits, and eventually reopen the entire length of the Big Sur coast.
While California’s historic snowpack is a boon for drought conditions, the unprecedented amount of water pouring down from the Sierra raises concerns for flooding downstream, where flows converge.
With just a few months left in most states’ fiscal year and a looming deadline to pass next year’s budget, the spring months can be a bit of a juggling act for lawmakers if the current year’s revenues aren’t lining up with expectations. The key word here is expectations. And many states have dialed them down compared with what they experienced in fiscal 2022. California is dealing with the largest gap. Lawmakers there budgeted for a roughly $10 billion decrease in revenue this fiscal year—but the actual drop has been more than twice as much, according to the state’s budget forecast report last fall. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposed spending plan assumes the state will face a $22.5 billion budget shortfall over the next three years. However, he is not planning to dip into the state’s more than $35 billion in reserve funds to cover it. Instead, his plan calls for finding savings such as delaying $134 million in funding for 20,000 new childcare slots and reducing first-time homebuyers’ assistance from $500 million to $300 million.
April 3, 2023
On Friday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said it was approving California’s plans to require a rising number of zero-emission heavy-duty trucks as the state pushes to cut pollution.
The latest in the long onslaught of storms that began in December has pushed California’s snowpack to its highest level on record. Last week’s storm dumped another one to two feet in the Sierra Nevada, helping this season eclipse 1982-83, the previous record-holder.
Recent rainstorms that have created flooding in some parts of Kings and Tulare counties have also ground work to a halt at several key construction sites for California’s high-speed rail project. But while standing water at some locations has prevented work crews from reaching their job sites, the Central Valley director for the California High-Speed Rail Authority said the prospects for a lengthy summer run of water in local irrigation canals present a greater potential disruption to construction later this year.