CT News 2022, Issue 4

Click here for a one-webpage version of all the stories in this column, in their complete form. (Service Awards and Retirements are not included.)

Director’s Corner

Focus on our Four Foundational Principles

Tony Tavares

The Director’s Message updates will mostly focus on our Four Foundational Principles: Safety, Equity, Climate Action and Economic Prosperity in our Communities. As I have emphasized before, these tenets are not abstract concepts, but rather the concrete framework guiding all our plans and projects.


Civil engineer Ali Shabazz killed in collision

Ali Shabazz

Caltrans is mourning the death of Ali Shabazz, 48, a Civil Engineer for the department. Shabazz was killed while on duty when he was involved in a fatal vehicle collision in Fresno County. Shabazz had served Caltrans for more than 16 years, joining the department in 2006. He is survived by his wife, Nia, and their eight children.

Digital Print operator makes District 10 look great

Ruby Islas

District 10 is fortunate to have Ruby Islas, who runs perhaps the best print shop anywhere. From her post inside the mailroom in the basement of the main building in Stockton, Ruby works as a digital print operator in Reprographics/Mail Services and has expert command of heavy-duty, high-tech equipment she uses to perform a variety of printing tasks that assist every facet of the department.

Eyes in the sky: District 2 deploys drones

Scott Tikalsky

For over 10 years, Scott Tikalsky has worked at Caltrans. As the Redding Field Surveys Branch chief for the North Region Office of Surveys, he commands four field survey crews and manages the workload for all things “survey” for Caltrans in the North state. It’s a position that requires adaptability and implementing new technological advances that change the way Caltrans conducts business.

Technology gives bridge inspections a lift

District 2 bridge inspection Shasta-Trinity

Under Bridge Inspection Trucks (UBITs) have been the most common tool used to gain access in difficult areas of bridges throughout California for many years. These trucks provide crews the ability to get underneath bridges to inspect areas that would otherwise be unreachable. But with more than 24,000 bridges to inspect in California, inspectors have been seeking more efficient ways to get the job done.

Caples Lake veteran has control over his domain


Maintenance workers in the Sierra Nevada kind of brush it off when someone asks if their job involves more than a fair share of risk. Jeff Brees has expertly accomplished potentially dangerous tasks for 10 years with Caltrans District 10 and for close to 40 years altogether. What many would consider hair-raising, Brees takes in stride as an Operator II, CEO II at the Caples Lake Maintenance Yard.

Soon, Groveland will be ready for its close-up

Groveland ceremony

A team effort between Caltrans District 10 and our valued partners in Tuolumne County led to a community celebration that shined the spotlight on our Clean California campaign. District 10 hosted a public event in the High Sierra community of Groveland on May 20, to recognize $1.27 million in Clean California grants that have been awarded for local projects.

In District 7, bridges get emergency fixes

Long Beach Bridge repair

District 7 recently had two emergency Director’s Orders for bridge repairs. They were on State Route 1 (Pacific Coast Highway) crossing over State Route 103 in Wilmington, and at the juncture of State Route 103 and State Route 47 in the Port of Long Beach. The latter bridge was damaged when a big rig carrying a 48,000-pound roll of lost its load.

Vaccinate 58 Campaign toolkits and materials

News item

Headquarters encourages all departmental employees to take advantage of the updated toolkits and materials that have been produced for the Vaccinate All 58 Campaign. Find links to the toolkits and materials in by visiting this webpage.

Hats Off

Loving the revamped Highway 101

Highway 101 near Carpinteria

“I just wanted to send a note saying thanks and that I think you are great. We drive the 101 here in Santa Barbara all the time. It's our main street. And it gets a little messy, and slow, and things shift. Lanes move. Pavement changes. And then one day ... voila! A brand-new road. I know it's not done, but the six lanes in Carpenteria look beautiful.”

Maintenance crews hailed by Atascaderan

“I'm writing to thank the dedicated road maintenance workers for their efforts to improve the areas along the Highway 101 corridor in Atascadero. Their commitment and dedication to making the right-of-ways along both sides of the highway safer for travelers is greatly appreciated. We know the work is hard and very dangerous.”

Health and Safety

For the health and safety column

When your life is in balance between home and work, you feel emotionally and physically healthy, able to take things in stride, and positive about the future. However, many people struggle to balance their full-time jobs and personal responsibilities. The list of demands on our time can seem endless.

Who’s New

Ryan Greenway, assistant federal liaison

Ryan Greenway

Ryan Greenway is the new assistant federal liaison in the Director’s Office. Prior to this position, Ryan served as the Southern California Regional Rail and Transit coordinator for Caltrans’ Division of Rail and Mass Transportation, where he provided technical expertise and strategic policy direction in rail and transit planning. Prior to joining Caltrans, Ryan served as environmental manager for the California High-Speed Rail Authority.

Jeremy Ketchum, chief of Division of Environmental Analysis

Jeremy Ketchum

Jeremy Ketchum has been appointed chief of the Division of Environmental Analysis. Jeremy began his Caltrans career as an environmental planner for District 4 in 1999. Jeremy then went to North Region where he served first as a generalist and then as a senior. Beginning in 2012, he joined Headquarters as an environmental coordinator for Districts 4 and 7.

Cyndee Kiddoo, District 9 deputy director for administration

Cyndee Kiddoo

Cyndee Kiddoo has been selected as District 9 deputy director for administration. Cyndee previously worked as the human resources director for the Toiyabe Indian Health project, overseeing numerous department managers and implementing innovative recruitment and performance management initiatives. Cyndee also has extensive right-of-way experience working for Inyo County as an auditor/appraiser.

Yatman Kwan, deputy division chief for freight and goods movement

Yatman Kwan

Yatman Kwan is the new deputy division chief for freight and goods movement in the Division of Transportation Planning. Yatman recently served as the office chief of sustainable freight planning and led statewide freight activities including the development of the California Freight Mobility Plan, California Freight Advisory Committee, multi-state collaboration efforts, freight research, and engagement efforts.

Tony Tavares, Caltrans director

Tony Tavares

Governor Gavin Newsom on June 17 announced the appointment of Tony Tavares as Caltrans director. He had been serving as District 7 director. “Tony Tavares has dedicated his career to serving the people of California, with decades of leadership and deep experience overseeing critical transportation issues spanning the state,” Newsom said.

Service Awards

A list of Caltrans employees who celebrated 25 or 40 years of service, or who received superior accomplishment awards, in June and July.


A list of Caltrans employees who retired in June and July.


Michael “Mike” Eagan, retired project designer

Michael Eagan cropped

Retired Caltrans employee Michael “Mike” Eagan died this spring at the age of 75. Mike began his career with Caltrans District 1 as a junior engineer in 1965 and retired after over 40 years in 2008 as the design manager for the Eureka and Redding offices. Over the years, Mike oversaw the design of more than 300 projects.

Brett Hall, equipment operator

Brett Hall

Equipment operator Brett Austin Hall, born July 23, 1996, in Eureka to Brenda and Richard Hall, passed away peacefully in San Francisco surrounded by the love of his mom, dad, bonus mom Kris and sister Kacie on June 12.

Gary McSweeney, retired transportation engineer

Gary McSweeney

Gary McSweeney, 82, passed away peacefully at home on May 14 in Idaho after a long battle with pulmonary fibrosis. Gary worked as a transportation planning engineer for the state of California (CalTrans) for 30 years until his retirement in 1994. After retiring, Gary and Jan traveled a bit and ultimately settled down in Hayden, Idaho, in 1996. 

Orville Francis Watowa, retired maintenance worker

Orvill Watowa

Orville Francis Watowa, 90, passed away May 15 in Buena Park. He was 90. He worked as a light and heavy equipment operator in supervisory and lead roles for over 36 years for the state of California Highway Department (Caltrans), until his retirement on Dec. 31, 1996. 

In this issue

Road trippin': State Route 270 to Bodie SHP  

One of our shortest state-run roadways heads up and into the past

There is no camping at Bodie. Contact U.S. Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management offices for nearby camping information.

Boo! There are ghosts in Eastern California, high up on a plain above Mono Lake. Bodie State Historic Park is one spectacularly scenic (and marginally spooky!) place that delights thousands of vehicle-delivered tourists every summer and a smattering of snowmobiling souls in the colder months. State Route 270, about as short as them come in the state highway system, is how CT News ventured out to Bodie in late July. 

Do You Know Our ABCs?  

CT News challenges you to identify three Caltrans-run roadways


Welcome to the fourth installment of CT News' "video game," players of which are ideally amused and engaged, and winners of which have zero chance of being awarded with any meaningful prizes. The game play is simple. CT News presents links to three narration-free videos, all under 40 seconds. They were shot recently alongside (or over) California roadways that are maintained by Caltrans. Email your guesses of roadway and location to CT News by Sept. 30.


Reed Parsell, Editor, Caltrans News

Tamie McGowen, Assistant Deputy Director, Public Affairs

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