Monday, December 28, 2015

Floodcast Prepares Caltrans For Real-Life Crises

With El Niño expected to bring significant storms to California in 2016, Caltrans is focusing on preparedness for emergency response. One of the ways the department prepares is by conducting simulations of natural disasters, which tell us what we're doing well and identify areas that would benefit from additional attention. In the video below, you'll go behind the scenes of Floodcast 2015, a drill that simulated a 1,000-year storm.

Speaking of storms, are you ready for El Niño? Visit to find out what you need to do to be prepared. Remember: be aware, be prepared, take action!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

District 7 Volunteer Day at the LA Regional Food Bank

On an early Saturday morning, a group of District 7 employees and family members gathered at the LA Regional Food Bank's warehouse to help sort and package produce in support of an organization that fights hunger in our communities. In a span of three hours, our group sorted through over 45,000 pounds of produce, enough to feed 37,900 people in Los Angeles County for the week.

Since 1973, the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank has distributed more than 1 billion pounds of food and provides food to 320,500 people monthly. You can help fulfill the mission of the
Los Angeles Regional Food Bank by visiting their website and learning about volunteer opportunities or making a donation.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Progress at Las Tunas State Beach Wave Breaker in Malibu

Heavy equipment pushes rocks onto the slopes to build the wave breaker. 
Since October 28, Caltrans' contractor, Nordic Industries has completed a lot of work to protect the slopes along Pacific Coast Highway (SR-1) on Las Tunas State Beach.  So far the contractor has:
  • Built a key way (dirt ramp) to access the beach
  • Built a temporary rock cofferdam
  • Removed loose materials from the damaged slope
  • Begun to build the rock slope protection
  • Delivered and placed hundreds of cubic yards of boulders, some weighing 14-tons.   
The construction crews base their work hours on the tides when working on the beach. 

While this project is underway, the beach/construction site is off limits to cyclists, pedestrians, and motorists.  Trespassers could be cited by law enforcement officers. 

All of this work has been permitted by the Los Angeles County Beaches and Harbors Department, California Coastal Commission, and the Army Corps of Engineers. 

Remember, Be Work Zone Alert.   

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

“25K Find a New Way” Innovation Contest Finalists Announced

This Solar-Powered Titanium Bridge Inspector Robot was not one of the finalists.
Back in August, Caltrans and two other state agencies announced the "$25K Find a New Way" innovation contest to improve government operations. The intent is to provide an opportunity for Californians to identify areas of improvement within state government and share their untapped expertise to create solutions. Each department has $25,000 to award. Submissions were due by October 13, 2015.

We asked for your ideas, and you didn't disappoint us! Caltrans is pleased to announce that more than 600 entries were received. After carefully reviewing all submissions, the following finalists were selected: 

Advance Directional Signs: Alter or add directional signs to give motorists more time to change lanes before merging.

Caltrans Freeway League: A digital space for Californians to develop successful commuting strategies, focused on safety and efficiency. 

Diverging Diamonds: An intersection configuration designed to provide easier merging while making wrong-way ramp access more difficult.

Gawker Blocker: A portable screen to obscure distracting activity from drivers’ views.

More Visibility for Caltrans Workers: Employ highly reflective, collapsible devices to increase the visibility of roadway workers.

Movable Dividers: Move center dividers to give commute direction more capacity in morning and evening hours.

Off-Peak Toll Discounts: Reduce fees for commercial vehicles that operate during off-peak hours.

Staggered Workday Hours: Employ several workday shifts to reduce commute congestion.

The winner will be announced before December 31, 2015. More information about the contest is here.

Communities Helping Communities: Bike-Ped case studies from FHWA

Wondering how committed transportation departments are to ensuring that pedestrians and cyclists are part of the US's transportation future? 

 Check out this out! 

The Federal Highway Administration recently released Case Studies in Delivering Safe, Comfortable, and Connected Pedestrian and Bicycle Networks

Be sure to check out FHWA's blog Fast Lane

State and federal funds have been allocated to support California's cycling and pedestrian infrastructure via the Active Transportation Program (ATP). To learn more about ATP projects statewide or in your community, visit:

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

From the Inbox: “Why Doesn’t Caltrans Add More Lanes?”

Every few weeks we get a call or email from an exasperated motorist—usually someone who recently was stuck in a time-sucking backup—wanting to know why Caltrans doesn’t add more lanes to existing freeways or build new freeways to reduce congestion. The thinking goes that if freeways had more lanes, traffic wouldn’t be so bad.

Seems logical enough, except it doesn’t work. Numerous studies have examined the effectiveness of this approach and consistently shown that adding capacity does not reduce congestion. On the contrary, it actually increases vehicle miles traveled (VMT).

How can that possibly be? Here’s a three-word answer: supply and demand. When congestion is reduced, the “cost” of driving drops, which is to say, it takes less time. And what happens when prices go down? More people buy! In other words, people drive more, effectively erasing any initial reduction in congestion realized by increasing capacity. This is known as induced congestion.

VMT increases because some people decide to switch to driving from other modes, such as transit. They may be less likely to combine trips or commute outside peak hours. They may even move farther away from work and school, requiring longer trips.

If the futility of adding lanes seems counterintuitive, here’s the part of this discussion that will really blow your mind: reducing capacity can provide social and economic benefits without increasing congestion. Cities in Europe have closed streets in central business districts to spur economic revitalization, and US cities are adopting this strategy as well.

While there are no plans to close any freeways or highways in District 7, Caltrans is increasingly focusing on fixing existing roads and encouraging bicycling, walking and mass transit. Occasionally, adding lanes and building new roadways will be necessary, but such projects will only be undertaken very strategically.

Want to learn more about induced congestion? Check out UC Davis Professor Susan Handy’s excellent and informative brief on this topic here.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Holiday Driving 101: Top Tips to Get You There Quickly and Safely

The Christmas/New Year holiday period is among the busiest long-distance travel periods of the year. The number of long-distance trips (50 miles or more) increases by 23 percent, compared to the average for the remainder of the year. Although media stories often focus on air travel, 91 percent of holiday travel is by car. (No data is available for sleigh travel.)

There’s a good chance that you’ll be part of that 91%. Are you prepared? Are you ready to deal with any and all conditions you may encounter on California’s 15,000 miles of freeways and highways? Do you know how to get reliable information about traffic incidents, backups and chain controls? Are you holiday driving savvy? If you have three minutes, you soon will be! Check out the video below for tips on avoiding travel headaches and getting to your destination safely.