Ensuring Equality for Disadvantaged Businesses
The Federal Highway Administration gave Caltrans approval in March 2009 to implement a federal fiscal year 2009 Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE)goal and methodology. This two-part program encourages minority and women owned businesses to participate on federally-funded contracts. The decision, however, was challenged in court in June.
Caltrans started adding DBE goals to its American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Recovery Act) contracts. The overall 2009 goal of contracting for disadvantaged businesses is 13.5 percent.
Business participation from enterprises owned by women, African-Americans, Native Americans and Asian-Americans is now monitored under the race-conscious part of the program. The 2009 race-conscious goal is set at 6.75 percent.
Businesses run by Hispanics or Subcontinent-Asians are now monitored in the race-neutral program, with a 2009 goal of 6.75 percent participation of those groups on transportation contract work.
State departments of transportation must implement the federal DBE program in order to receive U.S. Department of Transportation funds and ensure equality in our nation’s competitive market.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Western States Paving v. Washington State Department of Transportation changed the way state departments monitor and ensure participation of disadvantaged businesses in contracting and procurements. Previously, Caltrans used a wholly race-conscious program with a goal awarding 10.5 percent of contracts to disadvantaged businesses. The court ruling required state departments of transportation to use race-neutral programs until a disparity study was completed and indicated the need for a race-conscious program. Caltrans contracts with disadvantaged businesses fell dramatically when a solely race-neutral program was implemented. The Department’s disparity study was completed in June 2007. Based on those results, Caltrans sought and obtained federal approval of a mixed component race-neutral and race-conscious program. In June, the San Diego Chapter of the Associated General Contractors (AGC) filed a lawsuit challenging Caltrans’ DBE Program for federally-funded transportation contracts. San Diego AGC believes the Department’s DBE program is not supported by the state law and the federal Constitution under the 14th amendment. The Caltrans disparity study identified four underutilized groups, including Native Americans, African-Americans, Asian-Americans and women owned firms who are part of the race-conscious DBE Program.
Access for Small Businesses for Bond Guarantees
In early 2009 Caltrans partnered with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to increase contracting opportunities for California’s small businesses and help the economy. The joint Bonding Assistance Initiative helps qualified small businesses access bond guarantees, which are required on Caltrans construction contracts and are currently difficult for small businesses to attain.
Prior to this partnership, California-based small businesses faced a limited number of companies issuing surety bond guarantees. California’s new partnership will increase the number of surety bond companies statewide so small businesses will have easier access to bond guarantees
This initiative will increase bid participation from small businesses. The businesses can bid on regular, bond and Recovery Act construction projects. California has received $2.57 billion in Recovery Act funding for highway and local streets. The Surety Bond Guarantee Program is a public-private partnership between the federal government and the bond-issuing surety industry. Caltrans is working in conjunction with the SBA to provide free education and technical assistance statewide through Caltrans and SBA district offices.
Online Services Expand Opportunities
for Caltrans Contractors
In order to help contractors prepare bids for construction projects, Caltrans upgraded its Web site to allow them to bid on construction projects online. Contractors can now search by contract items, project location and license requirements.
This makes it much easier for contractors to find contracts, bid items, and item descriptions. Contractors can search for projects in their geographic area and within their license capabilities. The Web site includes an “opt-in” feature where contractors can add their company information to the plan holders’ list without having to purchase bid documents. A “frequently-asked-questions” feature was added for contractors as well.
Graffiti impacts all members of a community. Caltrans and taxpayers spend millions of dollars cleaning roadside rest areas, signs, light poles, trash receptacles, planters, phone booths, benches, sound walls, art pieces, traffic signals, electrical boxes, bridges, and other structures. The Department works with local public works and law enforcement agencies to prevent and remove graffiti and to prosecute offenders. *Preliminary numbers.
Source: Caltrans Division of Maintenance
Award-Winning Public Outreach
Caltrans received awards from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) for its public awareness campaigns on two major transportation projects in the San Francisco Bay Area and for a national highway safety campaign.
Caltrans won AASHTO’s highest recognition for public relations programs and campaigns, and the Excel Award for an emergency rebuild after a gasoline truck exploded in 2007 near the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge among a tangle of freeway ramps known as the MacArthur Maze. The Caltrans outreach program included daily media briefings and a Web site with updates, news coverage, and a live camera feed so the public could see first-hand the rapid rebuilding progress. Caltrans’ staff worked with local transit officials to encourage and provide service to the record 2.1 million passengers who rode the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART). This was the highest ridership in the agency’s 35-year history. Originally projected to take months to finish, the repairs were completed in 26 days, turning the “maze meltdown” into the “maze miracle.”
Caltrans won another Innovative Management Award for its public outreach and replacement of the West Approach of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. Caltrans initiated the largest public outreach campaign in its history to let people know that the lower deck of the Bay Bridge would be closed during the 2006 Labor Day weekend. The campaign included broadcast
and newspaper advertisements, flyers, electronic freeway message signs, and advertisements in movie theaters. The massive awareness effort helped motorists find alternate routes and prevented regional gridlock.
Caltrans also won the Excel Award for hosting the 2008 National Work
Zone Awareness Week. This was the first time any state outside of the metropolitan Washington, D.C. area hosted the national event. The Department won the Graphic Design Award for the National Work Zone Awareness Week kick-off event logo. The logo was used on hundreds of printed materials and online by state departments of transportation throughout the nation, as well as by the Federal Highway Administration and other partners.
Caltrans Excels in Public Education Campaigns
Caltrans received honors from the State Information Officers Council. The Fix I-5 Project media campaign earned a Silver Award, and the Don’t Trash California Cover Up Litter Bugs poster and Don’t Trash California stormwater pollution prevention photography both earned Gold Awards.
The Fix I-5 outreach included a Web site, paid media advertising, daily e-mail blasts sent to the public, community outreach, and press events. Caltrans also partnered with the Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG), the Sacramento International Airport and the California Trucking Association. In the end, more than 95,000 vehicles a day were diverted during construction and traffic ran smoothly. The goal of the Department’s Don’t Trash California public education campaign is to help reduce the amount of litter that enters the highway storm drain system by encouraging and reminding the public not to litter. The award-winning photographs helped compel residents to reduce the amount of litter and stormwater pollution. The Cover Up Litter Bugs poster was designed to prevent litter on the highways resulting from uncovered loads.
Small Business Benefits from Calmentor
In April 2008, Caltrans hosted 200 attendees representing small businesses, Disabled Veteran Business Enterprises, Disadvantaged Business Enterprises, established firms, local agencies, and other state departments at its Calmentor event in Oakland. Small and disadvantaged businesses were able to network, learn the tricks of the trade from established firms, and find out about contracting opportunities available in both state and local government agencies. The highlight of the celebration event was the recognition of the successes achieved by the smaller protégé firms directly resulting from their participation in Calmentor and the commitment of the mentor firms that made the Calmentor program possible.
More Than $1 Billion in Improvements
on Heavily Traveled Freeway
More than $1 billion is being invested in corridor mobility, safety improvements, traveler information, and pavement rehabilitation in the nearly 170 miles of Interstate 80. These projects are designed to improve mobility and safety on this vital artery. In August 2008, a caravan to showcase the work to the media and public began at the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge Toll Plaza in Oakland and moved east
to the Nevada border highlighting the projects along the route.
The first Proposition 1B-funded project in the Bay Area — a $53.2 million project to construct an 8.7-mile carpool lane in Solano County — was highlighted. This additional capacity will meet the demands of recent growth
and reduce travel delays and congestion for commuter and recreational traffic to
and from the Bay Area.
Other I-80 projects included a $47.1 million upgrade of corridor management elements that will provide Caltrans with real-time information to monitor and improve Bay Area traffic. On the other end of the corridor, Caltrans is working on an aggressive $521 million reconstruction program to rehabilitate the interstate and snow chain installation areas in the Sierra Nevada.
Other projects include a $49.8 million plan to upgrade a truck scale facility on this important goods movement corridor and a $48 million plan to add 5.5 miles of high occupancy vehicle lanes north of Sacramento. Proposition 1B, the 2006 transportation bond, helped fund many of these efforts. All projects are scheduled for completion by 2012.
First Year of Latest Curb Ramp Program Begins
Caltrans began the first year of its latest curb ramp program. Under this effort, the Department is committed to spending $10 million annually for five years to ensure that even more curb ramps comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Nine projects, programmed in fiscal year 2008-09 for $10.7 million, provide a strong showing of the Department’s continuing support for meeting ADA goals. Since the ADA was passed, new sidewalks have complied with the ADA, and there have been continuing efforts to upgrade older sidewalks.
Small Businesses Benefit from Procurement Fair
Caltrans holds small business procurement fairs throughout the state. In November 2008, Caltrans held a small business procurement fair at Oakland’s Jack London Aquatic Center. The fair was an opportunity for small businesses to make contact with the Department and sell their goods and services to Caltrans. Approximately 65 vendors attended, and the Caltrans district office purchased $1,570,000 in goods and services such as computer equipment, road sealants for maintenance, and office and safety supplies. To date, this one-day fair generated the highest dollar amount of
any procurement fair held
Caltrans hired a contractor to conduct an employee survey in 2008. The survey results allow Department staff to assess how Caltrans can operate more effectively and efficiently, and help increase employee morale. Caltrans strives to be the workplace of choice.
Source: Caltrans External Customer Survey