CT News 2019, Issue 1

Director's Corner

Safety is the department's highest priority

Caltrans Director Laurie Berman
Challenges confront us every day at Caltrans, and together we find ways to not only meet those challenges, but to exceed expectations. None of the challenges we face is more important than improving safety. As your director, I’m taking actions to ensure safety remains our highest priority. 




Caltrans workers, make it a fob-ulous month

Fob-in February poster

Whenever you drive a Caltrans vehicle, part of your job is to fob in. Nicholas Buenviaje, a landscape maintenance lead worker in District 11, wants to make sure that you do. Buenviaje spearheaded a Department-wide campaign to remind employees that the use of fobs (short for “frequency operated buttons”) has been mandated since 2014. 


Next stop for great ideas? Innovation Station

Innovation Station poster 2019

Do you have thoughts about how to improve Caltrans? If so, plan to disembark soon at Innovation Station. The idea-sharing and challenge-solving website, accessible via an icon on Caltrans’ Onramp webpage, was relaunched in early January by the Innovation Leadership Council after a few years’ absence.


Retired District 3 director takes center stage during Camp Fire disaster

Caltrans regional District 3 Director Amarjeet S. Benipal talks with Paradise Mayor Jody Jones, who was District 3’s director for 13 years, in November 2018 before a Camp Fire briefing with then-Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr.

Jody Jones acquired plenty of experience fielding pointed questions from the news media during her 13 years as District 3 Director. That media savvy prepared her well for the onslaught of reporters worldwide covering the devastating Camp Fire, which destroyed most of the town that she presides over as mayor.

Jeanie Ward-Waller, Caltrans’ sustainability program manager

Jeanie Ward-Waller

From Caltrans headquarters in Sacramento, Jeanie Ward-Waller helps shape and guide the Department’s plans to develop, build and maintain sustainable, multi-modal transportation systems in a state already feeling the effects of climate change.


Looking back: The evolution of Caltrans' district boundaries

In 1911, California’s highway system was divided into seven regional districts. Thirteen years later, three more districts were created. Today, there are 12.

Recently we were asked how Caltrans’ 12 district boundaries came about. That led us to the library at Caltrans Headquarters, and down a scenic path of historical tidbits. Buckle up for a 110-year ride.



'Bay Bridge Baby' is all grown up

Marcial Pacek, left, and Chris Posey recently were reunited for the first time since Posey responded to help when Pacek was born Feb. 12, 1990, near a Caltrans toll plaza on the old Bay Bridge. Pacek, who like Posey is now a paramedic, has been called the “Bay Bridge Baby.”

At 5 a.m. on Feb. 12, 1990, Chris Posey, in just his second year as a firefighter, was dispatched to the Bay Bridge. “Woman in labor at toll plaza number 14. That’s all the information we got,” Posey said. He arrived just in time at the Caltrans booth to be the one who got to welcome 9-pound, 6-ounce Marcial Pacek into the world.

This feel-good gesture comes with a tax deduction, too

Cropped logo of the California Transportation Foundation

The California Transportation Foundation is ready when you need help – so please consider paying it forward and giving CTF a tax-deductible donation today! CTF is the leading charitable organization serving California’s transportation community.  

Hats Off

D8 trio go above and beyond in lost phone incident

District 8 employees, from left, Kirk Young, Tracy Worley and Charles Young teamed up to find and return a motorist’s lost cellphone.

"I wish to bring to your personal attention the kind and generous actions of two of your local Maintenance employees assigned to the Magana-Ortega Caltrans yard in Bloomington. I only know them as “Tracy,” who is a supervisor, and his co-worker, “Kirk.” Both men discovered and returned my lost cellphone."

The right clean-up crew at the right time

"Lara Luna, Glynn Pinkerton and I are volunteers from the Vandenberg Village Association and the Village Lions Club who participate in the Caltrans Adopt-A-Highway program once a month. Early during our regularly scheduled date to clean up our stretch of Highway 1 on Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018, Lara and Glynn noticed a wrecked car down the embankment. It appeared the car was empty. I climbed down to check it out."

Woolsey Fire victim finds a friend in Caltrans

District 7’s Toney Griffin, an equipment operator II, serves the public from his 13th-floor work station in downtown Los Angeles

"I’m writing to compliment, give kudos to, and thank Mr. Toney Griffin for his help with my telephone inquiry this afternoon. I was trying to navigate the Caltrans website and was embarrassed to admit to my non-techie skills!"


A most welcome assist in the snowy Sierra

Greg W. DeAlba, Maintenance Area Superintendent

"I wanted to put in a good word about Greg DeAlba for his help in wintry conditions on a recent trip along I-80. He was so nice; he removed my cable chains for me up in the Donner area, and it was wonderful."


Sweet tweets

Complimentary tweet about District 7

Caltrans rocks on Twitter! Here we share onecompliment in particular that District 7 received in recent weeks.




Health & Safety

Graphic for Health & Safety column January 2019

New free service can help you, family cope with life's challenges

The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) now offers confidential messaging therapy, a new way to help you, your spouse, registered domestic partner or children deal with daily challenges and difficult situations. With messaging therapy, State employees and their immediate family will have free access to one of more than 3,000 licensed therapists across the country who are trained to be empathetic and use evidence-based clinical approaches.


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

Dennis Agar, Division of Maintenance chief

Dennis Agar has been appointed to Chief of the Division of Maintenance. He has more than 29 years of experience at Caltrans, serving in a variety of district and Headquarters leadership, managerial, supervisory and technical positions.

Dara Wheeler, Research, Innovation and System Information division chief

Tara Wheeler

Dara Wheeler was promoted to Division Chief for Research, Innovation and System Information (DRISI) starting Jan. 1. Her previous position was Division Chief for Rail and Mass Transportation, where she oversaw federal and state transit grants and programs, rail planning and operations support, and the rail rolling stock procurement and delivery functions.

Gilbert Petrissans, Division of Accounting chief

Gilbert Petrissans

Gilbert Petrissans is the new Chief of the Division of Accounting. He has been with Accounting for 25 years, and most recently presided as chief over the Office of Financial Accounting & Analysis, where he managed the Department’s financial statements and provided budgetary and appropriation controls over Department funds.

Trophy Case

L.A.-area bridge project teams honored with seismic safety award

The Caltrans team helping lead the way on the Schuyler Heim Bridge Replacement Project in Long Beach earned special commendation. California State Bridge Engineer Tom Ostrom, second from left, presented 2018 Caltrans Seismic Safety Awards to, from left, Elias Kurani, Dan Leon, Hammer X. Sui, Lawrence Okoye, Foued Zayati and Gudmunder Setberg.

Caltrans District 7, the Department’s Division of Engineering Services, and individual employees were singled out recently for their contributions to the Schuyler Heim Bridge Replacement Project in Long Beach. The 2018 Caltrans Seismic Safety Award was presented at the Caltrans Seismic Advisory Board meeting in November 2018.

Caltrans communication teams win national acclaim

Mile Marker graphic designer Daniel DeFoe, left, and Editor Steve Breen join with Assistant Deputy Director of Public Affairs Tamie McGowen in displaying the TransComm award.

Two Caltrans communications teams recently were honored for their public information work by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials Committee on Transportation Communications (TransComm). “At Caltrans, we are dedicated to public service, and these TransComm awards show that we not only work hard to get our job done, but we work hard to let the public know what we’re doing,” said Caltrans Director Laurie Berman.


Peter Nikolay Soin, longtime bridge engineer

Peter Nikolay Soin

Longtime Caltrans bridge engineer Peter Soin, 62, died July 16, 2018. Less than eight miles from his home in Folsom, his vehicle was traveling on Highway 50 when it struck two freeway construction vehicles and a guardrail. He was returning from dinner with his mother, sister and brother-in-law in the Bay Area.

Doris Ann 'Cindy' Dorovi, retired environmental attorney

Former Caltrans accountant Doris Ann (Cindy) Dorovi passed away of natural causes at her home in Sun City Lincoln Hills on Dec. 29, 2018. She was 80. She was born in San Francisco on Feb. 8, 1938. She was well known for her independence and strength. A true native daughter of California, she lived her entire life in Sonoma and Placer counties. 

CT News - Caltrans' employee newsletter


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

Tamie McGowen
Assistant Deputy Director, Public Affairs

Contact the Editor
Via email
or (916) 654-5820  

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