Climate Action Leader
Caltrans became one of the first state agencies to successfully certify its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions inventory with the California Climate Action Registry, a private nonprofit organization that protects and promotes early actions to reduce emissions.
Caltrans is developing a variety of measures to reduce GHG. Adaptation strategies will minimize impacts on the state’s transportation infrastructure while ensuring public safety, mobility and economic vitality. Climate change factors will be considered as the Department plans, builds, operates and maintains the transportation system.
Caltrans worked with the California Natural Resources Agency to outline strategies to limit the state’s expected climate change impacts. The Department prepared a mitigation report to provide a framework for reducing GHG emissions from transportation operations, buildings and facilities through system efficiency, conservation, and greening practices. For example, congestion relief is expected to improve operational efficiency of the transportation system, thereby reducing GHG emissions from mobile sources. The Department’s new cement mix standards allow for less GHG in intensive concrete production. Caltrans’ interdisciplinary climate action program implements climate strategies within the Department and in collaboration with partner agencies. The state’s climate change laws and regulations increasingly focus on how a project is developed and performs. The climate action program is also evolving to respond to advancing science. Caltrans is restructuring the program to maintain a leadership role and a model program to help other departments and agencies integrate climate change into transportation decisions.
As a member of California’s climate action team, Caltrans has been working to facilitate GHG emission reduction by working with the California Air Resources Board and the administration’s climate action team to support development and implementation of the program. Caltrans also collaborates with local and regional agencies, academic and research institutions, and environmental and energy agencies to advance the
state’s climate objectives.
Caltrans Wins the 2009 Green California
Green Technology, a nonprofit initiative designed to help government efforts toward sustainability, honored Caltrans with its 2009 Green California Leadership Award for developing an alternative fuel project to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Department operations. The multifaceted project maximizes Caltrans’ use of alternative fuels, increases the number of flex-fuel and green vehicles in the fleet, and reduces overall fuel consumption through conservation practices.
Caltrans replaced conventional fuel with alternative fuels as part of a goal that focused on E85 (ethanol) and biodiesel. The Department has completed its transition to the use of biodiesel fuel. Nearly 5,000 of 12,500 active Caltrans vehicles and pieces of equipment have been retrofitted to be more efficient; and of these, more than 3,000 use alternative fuel or energy. The leadership award distinguishes Caltrans as a good steward of the environment. The Department takes great strides to reduce its carbon footprint and improve air quality.
First Mobile Hydrogen Fueling Station
Caltrans opened its first mobile hydrogen fueling station during the summer of 2009 at a Los Angeles equipment yard. The dispensing equipment works with California Fuel Cell Partnership compliant vehicles. The project is aligned with Executive Order S-7-04 to ensure that, by the end of the decade, every Californian has access to hydrogen fuel along the state’s major highways. Caltrans also announced the opening of eight new E85 (ethanol) fueling stations for state vehicles.
Eco-Friendly Materials Get Green Light
Caltrans’ Materials Engineering and Testing Services, in coordination with industry, is developing specifications that will reduce the carbon footprint of concrete. The new specifications provide for the replacement of a certain amount of cement in concrete with supplementary cementitious materials (SCMs) and pure limestone. Reducing the amount of cement by replacing it with SCMs, which are recycled materials, will directly reduce the carbon dioxide emissions associated with the manufacturing of cement. The implementation of these specifications will greatly reduce carbon dioxide emissions while producing a better and reliable concrete product. The new specifications also allow for the use of recycled concrete aggregate as a substitute for conventional aggregate in minor concrete applications. Recycled aggregate reduces waste and makes concrete a more sustainable product with respect to mining and the environment.
Caltrans continually advocates for more funding to repair worn roadways. This graph includes money Caltrans was allocated from the Recovery Act.
Planning for the Future
Four years into its Regional Blueprint Planning Program, Caltrans reports that 17 of California’s 18 metropolitan planning organizations are engaged in regional comprehensive planning (regional blueprints). Supported by grants from Caltrans, the Regional Blueprint Planning Program ties land-use to transportation planning through a collaborative, comprehensive process that is transforming how the state plans for the future.
Regional blueprints integrate environmental, social and economic standards for a region’s planned future growth. The resulting collaboration builds relationships, balances needs and priorities, and engages the public in identifying values to guide a region’s growth. This lays the groundwork for a transportation system that epitomizes the governor’s objectives to promote sustainability and enhance the quality of life across California, while meeting the challenge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality.
Planning Grants Assist Local Agencies
In September 2008, Caltrans announced the release of more than $9.5 million in federal and state grants to 74 agencies, including local governments, planning groups, community-based organizations and tribal governments. Four transportation planning grant programs provide funding for projects that will help build stronger communities, promote equity for low-income citizens and minority groups, and protect the environment.
Highlights of the grants include $85,000 to develop a folding bike subsidy program that would provide discounts to transit riders who purchase a collapsible bike to use in conjunction with bus and rail systems in Los Angeles. Another program received $250,000 to revitalize the original Spanish El Camino Real (State Route 82) in San Jose between Diridon Transit Station at Cahill Street and Interstate 880. The project encourages multimodal transportation including transit, biking, and walking.
Funding is provided by both state and federal sources, including the State Highway Account, the Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Transit Administration.
Caltrans is using new advancements to clean sand, gravel and other debris from Caltrans culverts. A small remote-control loader allows the operator to stand outside the culvert being cleaned, eliminating the need for ventilation machinery. Crews typically cleaned medium-sized culverts manually. The loader uses less labor and water to clean these facilities.
Caltrans’ Division of Research and Innovation and the Advanced Highway Maintenance and Construction Technology Research Center at UC Davis collaborated to acquire and support the use of the loader. Equipment managers are coordinating field use across the state and providing equipment support and crew training. The unit has allowed crews to clean culverts in half the time. The machine’s power source meets the newest emissions standards.
Management Training Program
Reaches 1,000th Participant
During the past fiscal year, Caltrans continued its successful succession planning programs. Currently, 65 percent of Caltrans’ workforce is 45 years or older. In preparation for potential gaps in management as the “baby-boomers” retire, Caltrans developed a Management Training Program (MTP) in fiscal year 2004-05. This past year, Caltrans saw its 1,000th participant in the MTP and continued its other training programs, including the Administrative Skills Certificate Program, Supervisory Training Program, Leadership Training Programs, parts I and II, and the Executive Development Program.
Dealing With the Devil's Slide
Anchoring the north end of the future State Route 1 bypass in San Mateo County, the twin bridges at Devil’s Slide will provide access to the two tunnels that are presently being bored through the mountain to avoid an area prone to closures from landslides. Architects designed the bridge pier tables and railing to mirror the rolling undulations of the surrounding hills. The parallel bridges were constructed using the cast-in-place, balanced cantilever method, and graceful arches provide aesthetically pleasing views that blend into the environment. Construction occurred over an ecological microenvironment that is home to the red-legged frog, which is a threatened species. Building the bridge segment by segment resulted in no impact to this important ecosystem. The equestrian trail that was impacted has been relocated through a lush forest granting access to several scenic vistas. The bridges were completed in September 2008, and the tunnels are scheduled to open in 2011.
After summer fires denuded the hillsides adjacent to State Route 1 on the Big Sur coast, Caltrans embarked on an ambitious $5 million project to install several protective measures along the coastal route in and around Big Sur. Crews had only four months to design and construct the improvements, which ranged from wire fencing to earth berms to rock scaling — where Caltrans personnel climbed the hillside to remove loose material. The result has been very successful, with only minor, routine closures occurring during the 2008-09 winter season. After U.S. Geological Survey predictions that millions of tons of debris would flow onto the highway this winter, Caltrans engineers estimate these protective measures will curb erosion and save the state about $50 million in repairs over the next 10 years.
This chart displays the percent of environmental documents that Caltrans district directors
have approved on schedule. Caltrans has developed action plans to address community or environmental impacts.
Source: Caltrans Division of Project Management