CT News 2019, Issue 5

Director's Corner

Team Caltrans: Let’s roll up our sleeves – we have work to do

Toks Omishakin

Greetings to all of you, my new colleagues. I appreciate the warm welcome I have received since I was sworn in as Caltrans’ director on Oct. 23, and I look forward to the great things that we will accomplish in the coming years. Right off the bat I witnessed this department’s top-notch emergency response in the face of major wildfires and a major PSPS (public safety power shutoffs) event.


Statewide, Caltrans celebrates diversity, inclusion

Caltrans' Diversity Day ceremonies were held Oct. 10, 2019, at Trans Lab, 59th Street and Folsom Boulevard.
In July, Caltrans celebrated its inaugural Diversity Month. Every day, a different presentation or activity paid tribute to an enlightened workplace approach that has been embraced and adopted department-wide.

Get over it: Caltrans cleverly clears Sierra passes

For CT News index 2019-05
Thanks in large part to the dedication and hard work of District 6 surveyors and District 9 maintenance crews, Tioga Road (part of State Route 120) opened without restrictions on July 1 this year, despite the 2018-19 snow season having been especially robust.

In District 1, coping with rocks at a quick pace

Caltrans Rock Scalers
Rocks and debris peppering the roadway or a slide restricting the flow of traffic can cause issues for motorists driving the highways of District 1, but Caltrans rock scaling, tree and maintenance crews are working to head off these potential hazards before they happen.

Everyone wins if you follow through on Our Promise

Employees of Caltrans and other state departments were asked to donate to non-profits through the Our Promise campaign.
Time is on everyone’s side with the Our Promise campaign, “Power of an Hour.” Nonprofit organizations receive much-needed funds and state workers can feel good about making a positive difference in their communities.

To keep thriving, D5 engineer needs a kidney transplant

Caltrans District 5 Transportation Engineer Steve Gee is in need of a kidney transplant.
Steve Gee is a bicycling fiend, often seen riding his road bike to, from and around the Caltrans District 5 office where he works as an electrical engineer. A inherited disease threatens his health, however, unless he receives help.

Blood-drive volunteers’ Caltrans careers draw to a close

Joann Cole, a longtime Caltrans blood drive volunteer in Sacramento

Four Caltrans employees who have been intimately involved with the department’s blood-drive efforts in Sacramento have retired or are retiring this year, and blood-drive coordinator Shari Mannering wants to make sure their efforts are applauded.

Bravo, District 1, for employee recognition ceremony

Kathryn Lopez
The California Transportation Foundation would like to spotlight Caltrans District 1 for its 30 years of Service Employee Recognition Ceremony held earlier this year. The foundation was happy to provide service pins for the ceremony.

Make every Californian count in the 2020 Census

Graphic for the California state campaign to get people to participate in the 2020 Census.

The next Census is in Spring 2020. Let’s ensure all Californians are counted so we can put those resources to good use here at home! Starting in mid-March 2020, each household will get a letter in the mail. It will explain the different ways you can fill out the Census.

Hats Off

Highway maintenance leadworker is ‘a real gem’

Caltrans maintenance leadworker Ryan Voigt

In District 5, a Caltrans employee goes out of his way to help provide comfort to a person whose dog was killed on Highway 101.

Hen-hauler crashes, Caltrans lends a hand

Caltrans cleans up after truck filled with 1,200 hens crashes on I-80

On Sept. 5, a semi-truck hauling in excess of 1,200 commercial hens crashed on westbound Interstate 80 in San Pablo. Caltrans crews came to the compassionate rescue.

‘Exceptionally bold’ Highway 1 land markings appreciated

A motorist from Fresno emails Caltrans to thank the department for taking such good care of Highway 1 from Cayucos through Cambria .

Motorist thanks Caltrans for a smooth ride

An anonymous emailer praises Caltrans for the work it has done to smooth out State Route 17 in Santa Cruz County.

Native plants, slope-mowing appreciated

A motorist who travels on the Cuesta Grade daily on U.S. Highway 101 compliments Caltrans for replanting the slopes with natives.

Business owner credits Caltrans for big savings

A business owner reaches out to thank three Caltrans for their help with expediting a permit.

Proud grandmother lauds the lack of litter

A Carson City, Nev., resident who drove to a granddaughter’s graduation ceremony praises Caltrans for keeping a handle on roadside litter.

Trending on Twitter: Compliments about Caltrans

Hats off image about District 2

Districts 2, 8 and 11 are singled out on the social media platform for exemplary work along the State Highway System.

Health & Safety

How to stay positive during challenging times

CT News graphic for Health and Safety column

When we experience positive emotions such as joy, satisfaction and happiness, we tend to be more confident and open to possibilities in our lives. But staying positive during tough times can be difficult.


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

Service Awards

Employees who celebrated 25 and 40 years of service...

Who's New

Jim Davis, director's chief deputy

Jim Davis

New Caltrans Director Toks Omishakin’s chief deputy is a longtime Caltrans engineer who has held multiple leadership roles in the Department. James Davis, 54, was chosen by Gov. Gavin Newsom to serve in the department’s No. 2 position. Davis previously served as special advisor to the director under Laurie Berman, who retired in June, and Acting Director Bob Franzoia, who took over after Berman’s departure.

Keith Duncan, Chief of the Office of Capital and Finance in the Division of Budgets

Keith Duncan

Keith has been with Caltrans for 15 years in a variety of roles, including working in the Equipment, Maintenance, Procurement and Contracts, Business Facilities and Security, and Project Management divisions.

Toks Omishakin, Caltrans director

Toks Omishakin

Caltrans has a new director, drawn from the executive ranks of the Tennessee state transportation department. Toks Omishakin, 43, was appointed by Gov. Gavin Newsom in September to fill Caltrans’ highest post. Omishakin was sworn in as director in late October. Omishakin comes to Caltrans following eight years with the Tennessee Department of Transportation, where he established environmental, multimodal and planning policies.

Tom Ostrom, Division Chief of Engineering Services

Tom Ostrom

Over his 31-year career, Tom has worked on a wide variety of bridge, highway and tunnel projects throughout the state. He has also been a longstanding advocate for bridge research, Accelerated Bridge Construction and quality management.

Trophy Case

District 3’s Camp Fire coverage is a winner

District 3's Camp Fire special-edition newsletter

District 3’s Public Affairs staff this summer received a prestigious national award. Its special-edition Update 3 newsletter about the Camp Fire late last year was judged to be the best internal publication among transportation departments by the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials.


David L. Langston, Division of Human Resources

David Langston

David Langston was a valued and respected member in the Division of Human Resources’ Office of Transaction Services since 2012. Those who knew David say that he was patient, understanding and compassionate. He had a sense of humor that put all at ease. David demonstrated great concern for his coworkers’ well-being and went the extra mile just to show how much he cared.

Brian Martin, senior structures engineer

Brian Martin

Brian Martin had been with the Structures Department in San Diego since 1999 and worked on several high-profile projects that included the Interstate 5 Build North Coast Corridor, the Cabrillo and San Diego-Coronado bridges, and several interchanges along State Route125 from the South Bay to Santee.

Eric H. Sarkela, retired resident engineer in Construction

Eric Sarkela

Some of the highlights of Eric Sarkela's career included the Balboa Avenue Sinkhole Emergency repair and the Star Acres Curve Realignment on State Route 94. He retired from Caltrans in December 2002, having had the distinction of performing every function on a Caltrans construction job site.

CT News - Caltrans' employee newsletter


Reed Parsell
Editor, Caltrans News

Tamie McGowen
Assistant Deputy Director, Public Affairs

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Via email
or (916) 654-5820  

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