California Department of Transportation

2009 Outstanding Management and Engineering in Transportation Awards


Kenneth Terpstra  Principle Transportation Engineer
District 4, Toll Bridge

Kenneth Terpstra  brings a rare mix of engineering expertise and managerial wisdom to his role as project manager for the San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge (SFOBB) Seismic Safety Projects. After 19 years of service as a Supervising Transportation Engineer, he directed the recent $800 million retrofit of the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge and the $300 million retrofit of the SFOBB’s West Span.

While he has a rich and extensive history as a manager, 2008 was a defining moment for Ken as he shepherded to completion one of the most complex public work projects in state history. The successful seismic retrofit of the one-mile long West Approach to the SFOBB is a testament to his outstanding leadership. Because the West Approach runs through the heart of a thriving San Francisco commercial and residential district and has heavy traffic volumes (more than 280,000 vehicles daily), the five-year $450 million project was an extremely complex staging and construction effort. The open communication, which is characteristic of Ken’s managerial style, was essential to the project’s success.

Ken has always championed communication and cooperation as a critical asset to successful project management. He can often be found on-site, speaking with construction crews and making sure their contributions are recognized and appreciated. That devotion to fostering teamwork has resulted in the successful completion of all projects under his leadership, including the West Approach, one of the most challenging projects in an urban setting ever attempted by Caltrans.

The Charles H. Purcell Award recognizes valued contributions by Caltrans engineering managers to the field of transportation engineering and transportation program management. Mr. Purcell served as California’s State Highway Engineer from 1928 to 1943 and as Director of Public Works until 1951. He established California’s extraordinary record of leadership and integrity in transportation engineering and guided the construction of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge and the State Highway System.


Peter Wong, Supervising Transportation Electrical Engineer
District 7, Division of Operations

Peter Wong has worked his entire 31-year career in District 7’s Division of Operations, most notably in the Offices of Traffic Design and Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS). He has been at the forefront of electrical systems design and development and is often referred to as the “chief technologist.” He has been involved in hardware and software development for traffic signal controllers since the early 1970s. The developed software has helped improve traffic safety and travel times and conserves energy and save maintenance costs.

John has authored over 14 publications on rockfall and landslide topics. He also served as a technical consultant on The Learning Channel’s “Disaster Detectives,” National Geographic’s Explorers “Landslide,” and the History Channel’s “Modern Marvels: Pacific Coast Highway.”

He has been a member of statewide traffic signal committees since the late 1970s and provided many ideas that have improved California’s traffic signal systems. In addition, he was a member of the National Data Dictionary Committee and served on the Caltrans Electrical Management Board.

Peter has been on the leading edge of electrical and technological systems from the start of his career. He has helped Caltrans evolve electronically and technologically to address smarter and more efficient scientific advances to improve congestion and mobility.

The Karl Moskowitz Award annually recognizes contributions by Caltrans registered engineers to the field of transportation engineering. Mr. Moskowitz served as a traffic engineer for Caltrans for 27 years. Much of his work in freeway design and traffic flow appeared at the outset of the Interstate Highway program and was used extensively by planners and engineers nationwide, thus becoming the national standard.


Ruby T. Louie Deputy District Director
District 4, External Affairs

Ruby T. Louie until her retirement, provided 40 years of dedicated service to Caltrans and the citizens of California. She began her career as a clerk typist in the stenographic pool and worked her way up to Deputy District Director, External Affairs in District 4.

She played a vital role during two transportation emergencies, the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake and the 2008 MacArthur Maze collapse.

During the Loma Prieta earthquake she was responsible for logistics and personnel support. She was resourceful in providing resources to keep staff and recovery efforts going and organized work shifts to make sure staff received much needed rest.

Ruby was also instrumental during the recovery efforts due to the MacArthur Maze collapse. She immediately coordinated a stakeholders meeting to discuss transit resources, recovery efforts, and alternate commuter routes. She directed audio-visual staff to develop maps and detour information for the public through the web and media. She then began reaching out to businesses affected along the freeway corridors and negotiated parking spaces in mall and church parking lots as well as an unused business center to serve as carpooling and ridesharing meeting spots. Throughout the 26-day recovery she made sure the public, businesses and stakeholders were informed so they could make informed decisions.

The Emerson Rhyner Award annually recognizes contributions to the field of transportation by non-engineering Caltrans managers. Emerson Rhyner was Deputy Chief of the Division of Right of Way and the Legal Division for California’s highway program in the early 1960s. He represented the Department in Legislative Affairs, acting as a liaison to the Legislature as well as representing the State’s transportation interests in Washington D.C. His efforts helped define the relationship between state and national interests and established the roles of state and local governments in the early days of freeway system development.


Kevin J. Harper, Senior Bridge Engineer
Division of Engineering Services

Kevin J. Harper has made outstanding contributions to the field of bridge engineering in the areas of structural steel, concrete, segmentally constructed bridges, and earthquake engineering throughout his 23-year career. He is widely acknowledged as a leading authority in segmental bridge design.

Over the last two decades, Kevin has made notable contributions to numerous innovative bridge projects critical to the Department. One of the major projects is the Marina Viaduct retrofit in San Francisco, one of the first probabilistically based retrofit Caltrans projects. This retrofit is commonplace today, but quite advanced at the time, which demonstrates his leadership in advancing “state of the practice” in earthquake engineering. He also played a prominent role in the response to the Loma Prieta and Northridge earthquakes. He was a member of the first response/assessment teams after both earthquakes and served as Project Engineer for the I-5/SR-14 S.W. Connector (steel alternative), arguably the most visible reconstruction project in the aftermath of the Northridge earthquake.

Kevin also contributes to the bridge engineering profession by providing technical expertise as a subject matter expert, both on internal committees and on national issues. He was a contributor to the McGraw-Hill Standard Handbook for Civil Engineers and has presented numerous technical lectures and papers, most recent being to the American Segmental Bridge Institute 2006 convention.

The James E. Roberts Award annually recognizes outstanding contributions by Caltrans registered engineers to the field of transportation structures. Mr. Roberts served as a structural engineer and manager for over half a century, including 15 years as California’s State Bridge Engineer. He spearheaded Caltrans’ $4.5 billion seismic retrofit program and oversaw nearly $50 million in seismic research projects. He was named to the National Academy of Engineering in 1996; the only state-employed engineer to be so honored. Mr. Roberts retired in 2001 as Chief Deputy Director.