CT News 2018, Issue 2

Director's Corner

This summer, we are accomplishing amazing things

Caltrans Director Laurie Berman

After 14 months of construction we opened a new stretch of State Route 1 – built on top of the massive Mud Creek slide.The California Coast has a history of landslides – especially in the last year or two – but the Mud Creek slide was monumental. It dumped 6 million cubic yards of material, moved 75 acres of land and re-shaped the Pacific coastline, adding 15 acres that stretched out to sea. It buried SR-1 nine miles north of the San Luis Obispo/Monterey county line, cutting access to the Big Sur community for residents, business owners and tourists.


Filling potholes by joystick

Caltrans Maintenance Crews in the Bay Area are testing an automated pothole-filling truck from the safety of the truck cab.

Caltrans maintenance crews were pleased to find a few convenient potholes and convenient is not a word often associated with potholes. Potholes, almost by definition are inconvenient, cropping up on cold, rainy days, often on busy highways, when maintenance staff is stretched thin by multiple dispatch call-outs. 

Clearing the passes

The Caltrans Long Barn Sierra Pass Crew, (left to right and front to back) Erik Young, Tim McGrath, Jim Longeway, and Steve Belit pose with the new PistenBully snow cat, while Serge Kiriluk is operating the blower.

With a lull in the Santa Ana winds that fanned flames across southern California, Caltrans District 7 maintenance and engineering crews raced to assess highway damages on the third day of the devastating Woolsey and Hill fires in Los Angeles and Ventura counties.

The vest

Maintenance Manager II Deborah Prochnow spoke about the dangers highway workers face every day at the 2018 Statewide Caltrans Workers Memorial ceremony.

As the holiday season approaches, various districts and divisions within Caltrans are giving back to their communities through fundraisers and other special events. In the north in District 2, the Caltrans staff are participating in their annual Angel Tree fundraiser for needy children through the Salvation Army, and they are doing a special tree fundraiser for the employees who lost their homes during the Carr Fire in August.

California Transportation Foundation scholarship winners announced

Since its founding in 1988, the California Transportation Foundation (CTF) has awarded more than $1.1 million in scholarships. To qualify for these scholarships, recipients must be intent on a career in transportation, and be U.S. citizens, permanent residents, or documented, international students.

For the love of the kids

Caltrans District 2 Native American Liaison and Los Molinos Junior Giants Coach Kendee Vance was inducted into the Junior Giants Hall of Fame on March 26 in San Francisco. She is pictured here in the orange blazer, surrounded by her league players.

Baseball has long been a passion for Kendee Vance. “Baseball is the closest thing that allows you to be a kid again,” said Vance. “They call it the sacred game for a reason.” An even bigger passion for her is volunteering her time to help kids learn and grow through the game of baseball. Vance, the Caltrans District 2 Native American Liaison, was inducted into the Junior Giants Hall of Fame on March 26 at the Play Ball Luncheon at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco.

Web for all - new website accessibility requirements for California state agencies

Beginning July 1, 2019, state agencies and state entities are required to post on their website home pages a certification that the website complies with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG 2.0).

Hats Off

Kindness counts

Caltrans District 7 Public Information Officer Peter Jones and Public Records Officer Jeffrey Newman promptly and kindly answered a public request.

Caltrans received an email from Gaston Hinostroza regarding a collision that he had on Interstate 405.  He was requesting video footage, and Caltrans District 7 Public Information Officer Peter Jones and Public Records Officer Jeffrey Newman promptly and kindly told him that the Department’s video cameras are live streaming only.

Safely removing hazards

The Manchester Maintenance Crew: Caltrans District 1 Tree Crew Acting Supervisor Mike Quinliven, Tree Crew Acting Lead worker Robert Logan, Tree Maintenance Worker Jesse Dooley, and Operator 1 Theodore Wilcox fulfilled a public Customer Service Request by removing three large dead trees in front of homes on Highway 1, doing traffic control during the process and cleaning up afterward.

"We wish to compliment the District 1 team. Myself and my neighbor, Frank Jackson, independently contacted Caltrans this past fall to request that three very large dead trees in front of our homes, on Highway 1, be removed. These trees represented a significant hazard to people driving on Highway 1. In filing our online request, we were pleased to receive a response acknowledging that our request had been received."

Cookies show gratitude

Caltrans Senior Construction Engineer Jason Kline gave Girl Scout Isabella Raffetto a tour of the construction office after she gave him and his crew cookies as a thank you for clearing the Montecito mud slides off the local highways.

A Santa Barbara-area Girl Scout, from Troop #50396, recently visited the Caltrans District 5 Carpinteria Construction Office to present a case of Girl Scout cookies to a group of employees as a way of saying thanks for their work responding to the flooding and mudslides that closed U.S. Highway 101 and State Route 192 in the Montecito area this past January.

Improving pedestrian safety

Caltrans Hemet Equipment Operator II Chuck Olguin, Maintenance Worker Jose Ramirez, Equipment Operator II Jake Daffin, Maintenance Worker Eddie Lopez, Equipment Operator II Leon Rayfield, Maintenance Worker Larry Wright, and Maintenance Leadworker Manny Peña installed new sidewalks in downtown Winchester and the community is grateful.

"On behalf of the Winchester, CA community and Winchester Store, we want to thank Caltrans on a job well done! We appreciate all the work the Caltrans Hemet team has done. Most recently, they installed a new, safe sidewalk. The community feedback has been wonderful."

Hidden art

Now the public can view world-famous artist Shepard Fairey’s mural from the roadway.

"Last fall, Irvine’s Red Oak Investments installed a large public mural facing State Route 55 by world-famous artist Shepard Fairey, who is best known for designing former President Barack Obama’s “Hope” poster. But after the mural was complete, people had a hard time viewing it because trees on Caltrans’ right of way were blocking it."

Caltrans removes safety hazard

Jaime Vera supervised the removal of a large ash tree on Caltrans property that was growing over a homeowner’s roof.
Tree Maintenance Workers Ricardo Villa-Chavez and Rafael Valladares removed a fire hazard from a Fremont homeowner’s property and received a thank you for their hard work.

"I would like to compliment Caltrans! In January, I placed a request to have a very large ash tree removed because it was encroaching onto our property. It was growing over our roof and was a huge fire hazard. In late April, the crew came out and they were great! They called me prior to the job so I could be home while they did it. Upon arrival, they apologized for taking a few months to come out. They cut the whole tree down in a timely manner and they cleaned everything up!"

Health & Safety

Mental health awareness

Millions of people in the United States suffer from mental illness, yet mental health disorders are often poorly understood by the general population.


A list of Caltrans employees who retired or for whom certificates were requested.

Service Awards

Employees who are celebrating 25 and 40 years of service..

Who's New

Cory Binns, District 11 director

Cory Binns

For the past six years, Cory Binns has been the District 11 Chief Deputy District Director. He served as Acting District 11 Director from October 2017 until March 2018, and he has also been the District 11 Maintenance Division Chief.

Steven Keck, chief financial officer

Steven Keck

Steven Keck has worked for Caltrans for 18 years. Since 2009, he has been the Chief Budget Officer, responsible for overseeing the Department’s more than $13 billion budget, as well as cash management policy and revenue forecasting. 

Lori Kirkendoll, human resources assistant division chief

Lori Kirkendoll

Lori Kirkendoll’s previous work in Human Resources included management assignments over the Department’s Workers’ Compensation and Reasonable Accommodation Programs, Transactions Services, Workforce Planning, the Equal Employment Opportunity Program, and Classification and Hiring Services. 

Trophy Case

Highway safety poster contest winners

Each year, Caltrans holds its annual Highway Safety poster contest. The contest is open to children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews of Caltrans employees, and it gives the children an opportunity to express the importance of driving safely in or near highway work zones.

Caltrans heroes earn Governor's Award 

Caltrans Transportation Engineer Theodore “Tad” Sampson received the Governor’s State Employee Medal of Valor Award for going beyond the call of duty to save an excavator operator trapped on Interstate 80.

Five heroic Caltrans employees received the Governor’s State Employee Medal of Valor Award in May. Caltrans employees Theodore “Tad” Sampson, Shawn Morgan, Steven Rhine, Matthew McCarter and Jason Heinz went above and beyond the call of duty to save others’ lives.

Caltrans cleans up well

From left: Caltrans Equipment Operator 2 Victor Villanueva, Highway Maintenance Workers Roy Moreno and Frank Ortega, Landscape Maintenance Leadworker Salvador Lopez-Zamora, Maintenance Supervisor Paula Kilgore-Voight, Highway Maintenance Worker David Ramirez, Santa Barbara Mayor Cathy Murillo, and city of Santa Barbara Police Officers Craig Burleigh and James Ella.

Caltrans’ District 5 Landscape Crew recently earned a Looking Good Santa Barbara’s “Spirit of Service Award” for their commitment to reduce, reuse, recycle and compost. They specifically earned the Clean Community Award.

Caltrans maintenance employees recognized

Maintenance Division Chief Tony Tavares, left, presented Headquarters Customer Service Officer Patrick Olsen with the Maintenance Gold Partnering Award for communicating, refining and streamlining the Customer Service Request process in partnership with 12 districts.

The 2017 Maintenance Recognition Program’s inaugural awards cycle is complete, with 14 teams or employees earning cash prizes and certificates signed by the Director of Caltrans. We present a roundup of the winners who earned cash prizes ranging from $250-500. These employees were recognized in ceremonies across the state.

Outstanding Management and Engineering in Transportation

Rodney Oto

The 2018 Outstanding Management and Engineering in Transportation Awards recognizes contributions to the field of transportation by Caltrans registered engineers, and engineering and nonengineering managers.



Mary Ann (Martin) Brunello, retired Division of Highways operator

After working several years in Sacramento, Mary Ann Brunello moved to Pollock Pines and started her career with Caltrans. She started in the office, but transitioned outdoors to the road, where she was one of the first and only women to work as an operator for the California Division of Highways.

Eugene W. Knaebel, retired District 2 director

Eugene W. Knaebel

Gene Knaebel had a passion for life and adventure. During his college years at Michigan Technological University, he was a champion ski racer. He remained an avid skier throughout his life. He loved fly fishing and had a knack for outsmarting the fish. 

Thomas Pollock, retired District 5 director

Thomas Pollock

Thomas Pollock worked for 37 years for Caltrans. Pollock held many engineering and managerial positions, including the San Luis Obispo District 5 Director from 1986 to 1992. He was a die-hard Boston Red Sox fan to the end. Pollock loved being on the ocean, and he and his wife enjoyed many cruises together in retirement.

CT News - Caltrans' employee newsletter


Reed Parsell
Editor, Caltrans News (May 2019 to the present; this issue was edited by Erin Von Tersch)

Tamie McGowen
Assistant Deputy Director, Public Affairs

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Via email
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