Toks Omishakin was appointed the 33rd Director of the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) by Governor Gavin Newsom and sworn in October 2019. As Director, he manages a $15 billion budget and nearly 21,000 employees who oversee 50,000 lane miles of highways, maintain 13,000 bridges, provide permitting of more than 400 public-use airports, fund three of Amtrak’s busiest intercity rail services and provide transit support to more than 200 local and regional transit agencies.
Omishakin’s transportation vision for California features a safe, sustainable and multimodal transportation system that builds on strong local partnerships. Transformative innovation will also be needed to achieve zero traffic-related deaths and reduce GHGs by 40% by 2030. All local communities must be heard and share in the benefits of Caltrans projects, and he encourages a Caltrans culture of innovation and taking intelligent risks.
He came to Caltrans following eight years with the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT). There, he successfully established environmental, multimodal and planning policies to make TDOT one of the best DOTs in the country.
As Deputy Commissioner for Environment and Planning, Director Omishakin was responsible for an administrative and project budget of more than $300 million annually. He also led the activities of the divisions of Environmental Services, Long-Range Planning, Multimodal Transportation Resources, and the Freight and Logistics Division.
Prior to that, he served as Director of Healthy Living Initiatives in the Nashville Mayor’s Office.
In that capacity, he led development of Metro Nashville’s Complete Streets Policy and helped establish a more balanced approach to transportation planning and design. This included spearheading creation of two bicycle sharing programs.
In December 2019, Omishakin became Chair of the Active Transportation Council for the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO). This came after two years serving as committee vice chair and serving as chair of AASHTO’s Multimodal Task Force. He is also on the Board at America Walks and has advised the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis through its Transportation Council Board.
Born in Knoxville, Tenn., Omishakin and his wife have two children. He is completing a Ph.D. in Engineering Management from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville; has a master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning from Jackson State University; and a bachelor of arts in Engineering Technology from Mississippi Valley State University.