California Department of Transportation

2014 Outstanding Management and Engineering in Transportation Awards


Basem Muallem
Basem Muallem

Basem Muallem, Director
District 8

Basem has over 30 years of professional engineering experience with Caltrans.  He has held progressively responsible positions throughout his career.  His breadth of expertise and experience, coupled with his proven leadership skills, set him apart from many in the field. 
Basem is performing an outstanding job and continues to receive accolades from local partners, elected officials, and Caltrans’ executive team.  Under his direction as the District 8 director, he is responsible for many projects, but a few notables are:

  • I-15 Joint Port of Entry (JPOE) – Basem played a significant role in securing the funding for this project.  The JPOE provides a multipurpose facility that will protect California’s transportation infrastructure and create 2,000 jobs.  
  • Colorado River Bridge Replacement – Basem was key in resolving many right of way issues and worked with 56 federal and state government and private entities.

Design/Build Projects – District 8 leads the state with a total of three Design/Build projects under construction:

  • I-15 Cajon Pass Pavement Rehabilitation
  • SR-91 Corridor Improvement Project – this is a $1.2 billion project adding
  • I-15 Devore Interchange

Basem continues to serve as an inspiration for many, and is widely respected by his peers and leaders in transportation organizations outside Caltrans.  He is an asset to the District, Department and the taxpayers of California.
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.


Steve Price
Steve Price

Steve Price, District Deputy Director
District 5, Maintenance and Operations

Steve has seized numerous opportunities to expand his knowledge and contribute to the betterment of the Department throughout his nearly 35 year career with Caltrans.  His broad knowledge comes from working in many areas including Hydraulics, Construction, Project Development, Traffic Operations and Maintenance, as well as several special assignment projects.

As the Deputy of Maintenance and Operations, Steve is tasked with balancing design and engineering concepts with owner/operator responsibilities.  He strongly advocates for maintenance worker safety and looks for opportunities to include maintenance personnel in the project development process.  He also created the first Maintenance Safety Officer position in the State.  

Another of Steve’s major accomplishments was the successful collaborative effort to protect 82,000 acres of pristine coastal lands through the Heart Ranch Conservation Project.  The project was a recipient of the prestigious Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award. The project resulted in the transferring of more than 1,500 acres to the State, of which, 949 acres became part of the State Parks System. The remaining land was offered to Caltrans as needed for realignment of Highway 1 and to address serious erosion concerns.  As a result of this transaction, 13 miles of coastline and 30 beaches along this stretch of coast have been transferred to the public and will facilitate the development of the California Coastal Trail.

The Karl Moskowitz Award annually recognizes contributions by Caltrans registered engineers to the field of transportation engineering.  Mr. Moskowitz served as a Caltrans traffic engineer 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


Barton J. Newton
Barton J. Newton

Barton J. Newton, State Bridge Engineer
Division of Engineering Services, Structure Policy and Innovation

Barton has made outstanding contributions to the field of bridge engineering in the areas of design, construction, maintenance, preservation, research and technical policy throughout his thirty year career with Caltrans.

Barton has been the driving force in the initiation and development of the “California Bridges and Structures Strategic Direction.”  The strategic direction provides a roadmap for the integrated management of all bridges and structures located on public roads in California.  Through this integrated management approach, Caltrans and its partners can more effectively improve mobility by strategically addressing California’s bridge and structure needs to best serve the traveling public. 

He is a member of multiple organizations, including the Transportation Research Board Steel Bridges Committee AFF 20 & Long Term Bridge Performance Committee Expert Task Group for Bridge Durability & Preservation.

Through Barton’s leadership and advocacy, the Bridges & Structures Strategic Direction is moving towards implementation. The strategic direction addresses a number of challenges facing California that influence the state’s ability to effectively manage the complex bridges and structures infrastructure.   As the strategic direction is implemented, the public will benefit from improved mobility in California by means of a transportation system that is safe, durable, well managed and cost effective.

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 more than 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.


Bill Figge
Bill Figge

Bill Figge, Deputy District Director
District 11, Division of Planning

Bill has been with the District 11 (San Diego and Imperial counties) Planning Division for more than 30 years.  He has distinguished himself as an exemplary and effective leader in the field of transportation planning and management.

Bill’s responsibilities include resolving international cross-border mobility and infrastructure planning issues, which includes the world’s busiest port at San Ysidro. His efforts have resulted in achieving efficient and secure movements of people and goods to and across California’s 160-mile international border with Baja California, Mexico.

Under his leadership, the district partnered with officials in Mexico to develop the California-Baja California Border Master Plan (CA-BC BMP).  The CA-BC BMP gained national recognition as a winner of the Border Research Partnership/Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars Award for U.S.-Mexico Cross-Border Cooperation and Innovation in 2011. 
It also has been credited with helping the department gain a Presidential permit for the new State Route 11 and Otay Mesa East Port of Entry in only 10 months, when historically the permit process has taken years.

He has been the point person in establishing effective collaborative working relationships with the regional local planning agencies, the U.S. Department of Interior and the 21 tribal nations in the district. 

Bill’s exemplary leadership, guidance and innovation have led to major advancements and accomplishments in the field of Transportation Planning – especially in coordinated, cooperative planning with other nations. 

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 and 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.