CT News 2017, Issue 5

Director's Corner

It's been a historic year, and there's more to come

Malcolm Dougherty

After working to repair $1.2 billion in damages from one of the wettest California winters on record, assessing and repairing about $30 million in damages from the devastating October wildfires, and accelerating approximately $5 billion in “fix-it-first” projects due to SB 1, I think it’s fair to say it’s been a historic year.



Reconnecting Big Sur Using Innovative and Accelerated Bridge Construction

A February 2017 landslide under the 1968 Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge fractured a bridge column.

The second wettest winter on record cut access to the world-famous Big Sur California coastline with two historic landslides on State Route 1 – one that is still blocking access at Mud Creek to the south, and one that fractured a column and forced the closure of the iconic Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge, built in 1968 to connect Big Sur to Carmel in the north.

Keeping highways safe in a fire

District 1 Acting Tree Crew Supervisor Michael Quinliven cuts down a hazardous tree during the disastrous October northern California fires..

My crew, Ukiah District 1 Tree Crew South, and I started working the Redwood Valley Fire Complex in Mendocino County on Oct. 9. The fire had started Oct. 8, and was ravaging the forest north of Highway 20, west of the Mendocino National Forest.


Mysterious lamprey and the invisible project

The original Cedar Creek Culvert, outlet apron and plunge pools before fish passage upgrades.

Below U.S. Highway 101 in rural Northern California, the Cedar Creek Arch Culvert Repair will have a huge impact for the Pacific Lamprey’s ecosystem. The Cedar Creek project is 200 feet below U.S. Highway 101, approximately two miles south of Leggett in Mendocino County. The Pilot Fish Passage Assessment Study ranks Cedar Creek as sixth in priority in District 1.

Caltrans kid’s wish comes true

Retired astronaut Dr. Stephen Robinson (right) tells four-year-old Samuel that his wish to see a real spaceship is being granted by Make-A-Wish® Northeastern California and Northern Nevada chapter. In January, Samuel and his family will visit the Kennedy Space Center..

At Caltrans, our days are consumed with highways, bikes, pedestrians and transit. We haven’t yet moved into the great unknown of space travel, but one Caltrans kid’s wish to see a real space ship is coming true, thanks to Make-A-Wish®. 
Four-year-old Samuel, whose mother is Francis Brown in the Division of Local Assistance in Headquarters, was diagnosed in October 2016 with Wilm’s tumor kidney cancer.

Caltrans ran to feed the hungry

Caltrans Cares Team from left to right front to back: Angela Shepard, Mariano Pontillas, Zilan Chen, Pete Spaulding, and Vivian Nguyen are kneeling. Matthew Friedman, Ann Mahaney, Blair Thompson, Cindy Pribyl, Katelynn Krycia, Jeaneete Mactzul and Al Kwan are standing in the middle row and Lee Beebe, Peter Meshot, Isabel Meshot, Brian Maguire, Monique Maguire, Alex Kenefick and Ted Evans are in the back row.

A group of Caltrans employees got together Thanksgiving morning and ran to feed the hungry, supporting the Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services, along with nearly 29,000 other people. Blair Thompson, who has been with Caltrans for just less than a year as the Innovation, Risk and Strategic Management Chief, suggested forming a team for the Run to Feed the Hungry event.

Diversity and Disability Awareness Day

Hundreds of Sacramento-area Caltrans employees attended the TransLab Caltrans Diversity and Disability Awareness Day at lunch time on Oct. 4.

On Oct. 4 Caltrans employees sampled food from Pakistan, Korea, Mexico, and more as a Chinese Dragon and Korean dancers performed in the Caltrans Sacramento Translab yard. The event included booths representing nine different cultures, the Department of Rehabilitation, the Caltrans Disability Advisory Committee, Northern California Hearing Center, the Professional Engineers in California Government and more.

Tyeisha, our Caltrans PIO

Caltrans District 8 Public Information Officer Tyeisha Prunty

Can you remember the last time there was no construction on any of our area roads?  Due to wear and tear, growth and demand, California’s road systems are continually been repaired, improved, and expanded. And while this work eventually benefits us, it is often an inconvenience. The job of a Caltrans Public Information Officer (PIO) is to make the process as painless and successful as possible.

Caltrans Innovative Business Solutions wins national recognition

Caltrans earned the SAVE International Gordon Frank Award for using innovative business solutions to improve processes to better serve the public.

SAVE International presented Caltrans’ Office of Innovative Business Solutions (IBS) the Gordon Frank Award for Outstanding Accomplishment in Government and nationally recognized Caltrans’ process improvement program within the Caltrans Director’s Office of Innovation, Risk, and Strategic Management.

Foundation goes social

The California Transportation Foundation (CTF) is active on social media. Caltrans employees are invited to connect and view photos of fundraisers, thank you notes from scholarship recipients, and videos of the people, programs, projects and organizations that show excellence in transportation and more.

Caltrans saves house

Caltrans Maintenance Lead Worker Mark Charles (left) and Equipment Operator II Jerry Smith’s quick thinking extinguished a grass fire before it threatened homes in rural Sonora.

Quick thinking by a pair of Caltrans maintenance workers likely prevented a small fire from doing significant damage this November in the Sonora area. Caltrans Maintenance Lead Worker, Mark Charles and Equipment Operator, Jerry Smith were busy cleaning culverts on State Route 108 above Sonora near Hess Avenue in preparation for an incoming storm when Smith noticed smoke coming from behind a residence that didn’t look right.

Hats Off

Making highways safer

Caltrans Maintenance Supervisor Joanna Lopez assisted a grateful stranded motorist on I-15 and received the following praise.

"I wanted to let you know that Caltrans Maintenance Supervisor Joanna Lopez (in District 8) is absolutely FABULOUS. This summer my rental car had a flat tire at post mile 169.0 on southbound I-15. She saw my car parked on the shoulder of I-15 and proceeded to stop on the shoulder of the highway about 30 yards behind me, turn on her emergency work lights and walked up and asked if my son and I if we were okay and needed any assistance."

Exceptional records service

District 5 Records Manager Pat Duty

"I would like to take this opportunity to personally thank and commend Caltrans District 5 Records Manager Ms. Pat Duty for the extraordinary effort to assist me with my recent Freedom of Information records request. I’m a researcher with Pacific Coast Railway Group and have been working with California Polytechnic State University on a geo-mapping project of the former Pacific Coast Railway."

Heroes in orange

Caltrans Crew 646 from left to right: Supervisor Adam Wimberley, Equipment Operator II’s Jack Hildebrandt, Bill Loucks, Jeff Davis, Josh Vonderahe, Chris Cruse, as well as Leadworker Richard Hare and Equipment Operator II Steve Castelletto received the following thank you note from a grateful homeowner in Yosemite. Equipment Operator II Mark Tingley is not pictured, but also worked to save the Highway 41 house from the Railroad Fire.

"I am writing to praise the Caltrans crew that saved my house from burning to the ground on Aug. 29 during the Railroad Fire. Several other structures in our immediate area were destroyed. I thought my house was toast when I pulled out. We were out of the house for 11 days not knowing if it would still be here."

Grateful for quick response

Caltrans Customer Service Liaison Joe Erdelen

"Thank you for being so responsive to the online submissions we make about things we see, such as trash, hazards and graffiti, just to name a few. We are both retired civil servants and know that too often, people only take the time to complain but forget to say thank you." 



Health & Safety

Staying strong

Being healthy and fit benefits both body and mind. When you feel well mentally and physically, you’re more likely to make good decisions about food, exercise, and sleep. When you’re not feeling well, it’s easier to give in to temptations, eat poorly, and not take good care of yourself. We all have “off days.”

Customer Service

Caltrans’ Vision at Work

Patrick Kelly

Caltrans’ Vision is “A performance-driven, transparent and accountable organization that values its people, resources and partners, and meets new challenges through leadership, innovation and teamwork.”


Service Awards

The Employee Recognition Program staff compiled the following lists of employees who recently received Caltrans service awards.


The following employees retired in August, September, October and November and certificates were requested.

Trophy Case

Caltrans equipment operators win state competition - go to nationals

District 1 Equipment Operator II Paul Nelson was one of four Caltrans Maintenance employees who won the 2017 Statewide Equipment Safety Competition in August.

Caltrans District 1 Equipment Operator II Paul Nelson, District 2 Highway Maintenance Leadworker Ken (KC) Harris, District 7 Electrician II Mike Mercado and District 7 Equipment Operator II David Zapata won the 2017 Equipment Safety Competition. This qualified them to compete in the American Public Works Association’s Western Snow and Ice Conference in Loveland, Colorado as the top Caltrans equipment operators.


Who's New

Janice Benton

Janice Benton

Janice Benton is the new Headquarters Design Division Chief. She earned her civil engineering degree from UC Davis in 1991 and started with the Department in 1993.  She has been the Deputy Division Chief in the Division of Design since May 2013. Prior to Design, she worked in Traffic Operations for 16 years.

Roberto Lacalle and Dan Speer

Robert LaCalle
Dan Speer

Roberto Lacalle was appointed the Division of Engineering Services (DES) Deputy Division Chief for Geotechnical Services and Dan Speer was appointed the Deputy Division Chief for Materials Engineering and Testing Services (METS). Both started their new positions Dec. 11. Roberto began his Caltrans career as a junior civil engineer in Structure Construction in Los Angeles Dan Speer has more than 33 years of experience at Caltrans and most recently served as the acting DES Deputy for METS and Geotechnical Services. 

Ashley McGuckin

Ashley McGuckin

Ashley McGuckin is the new Assistant Division Chief in the Division of Human Resources (DHR), managing the Office of Examinations and Executive Selection, and the Recruitment, Workforce Planning, and Employee Recognition Program. Ashley will lead these s Caltrans prepares to increase staffing levels in response to increased funding in Senate Bill 1.

Jeff Rowe

Jeff Rowe

Jeff Rowe is the new Assistant Division Chief of the Division of Business Operations. Jeff comes from the State Controller’s Office, where he managed the Business Services Office. Jeff has worked for the state for more than 20 years, including 12 years in contracts and procurement and nine years in facility and leasing management.

Keith Steiner

Keith Steiner

Keith Steiner is the new Human Resources Examinations and Executive Selections Office Chief. Keith brings seven years of diverse human resources background to the position. He started his career at the Bureau of Automotive Repair as an office technician in 2008. Keith began working with Caltrans in 2011.

Andrea Vine

Andrea Vine

Andrea Vine started as the new Assistant Division Chief of the Division of Safety and Management Services in November. Andrea is responsible for the Office of Discipline Services (ODS), Office of Labor Relations (OLR), and Office of Driver Certification and Substance Testing. 

Jeanie Ward-Waller

Jeanie Ward-Waller

Jeanie Ward-Waller started as Caltrans Sustainability Program Manager on Sept. 25. Jeanie will work with external partners and all divisions and districts to continue to develop the Caltrans Sustainability Program. Jeanie is well known as an effective advocate for active transportation, health, and equity in California.


Larry T. Barnard

Larry Barnard, 75, died Aug. 4 due to declining health. He was the only child of Charles (Louie) and Mabel Barnard (Whitcher), born on June 30, 1942 in Ontario, CA. Larry was a 1960 graduate of Chaffey High School and a 1963 graduate of Chaffey College.

Si Si Han

Bay Bridge Toll Collector Si Si Han

On the morning of December 2, Caltrans employee Si Si Han was killed on the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge when a box truck collided with her toll booth just 11 minutes into her shift. Han is the 188th Caltrans employee to die on duty. 

Jon Hirtz

Jon Hirtz

Retired Caltrans Photographer Jon Hirtz passed away Aug. 23. He is survived by his wife Linda Sallee-Hirtz; son Daniel Mennick, grandson Tyler Everitt, granddaughters Heather Mennick and Julie Tolbert, and many friends, and family members.

Walter Alvin Lyons

Walter Alvin Lyons, 88, died on Oct. 22. He was born to Floyd and Louise Lyons in Everett, Washington on Dec. 1, 1928. Walt retired as a Caltrans District 3 civil engineer after 35 years, as well as three years with Boyle Engineering. He worked on the 1-80 Donner Pass, the Bay Area Rapid Transit system and the Sacramento Light Rail system.

James Alan Moe

James Alan Moe was born to Alan and Editha Moe in Fargo, North Dakota April 14, 1932, and died Nov. 6. He served as director of Caltrans during the gubernatorial tenure of Ronald Reagan, and left public office in 1974 to join the Bechtel Corporation in San Francisco.  

James Harland Woodstrom

Carmichael resident James Harland Woodstrom was born July 29, 1929, and died October 20. Jim worked his way up and enjoyed a long career as a professional civil engineer for Caltrans, specializing in concrete and bridge design. He retired in 1990. 

Richard Carroll Young

Richard (Dick) Carroll Young, 85, of Yuba City, passed away August 6. He married Joan Bosworth in 1954, graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno, majoring in civil engineering, and began his 38-year career at the Division of Highways/Caltrans.

CT News - Caltrans' employee newsletter


Reed Parsell
Editor, Caltrans News (May 2019 to the present)

Tamie McGowen
Assistant Deputy Director, Public Affairs

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