Director's Corner

Let's keep the momentum going

Toks Omishakin portrait

Toks Omishakin

Hello Caltrans Family. As I prepare to move into a new leadership role as Secretary for the California State Transportation Agency, I want to briefly recap and place emphasis on some of our notable and newer Departmental focuses. These important components have been shaping our work at Caltrans, and each one of you – every member of our 22,000 strong family – has been making invaluable contributions to this work every day. 

District to district, program to program – our two years of incredible collaboration led to the development of what, by design, has evolved to form the nucleus of a people-focused Caltrans. Though what may, at first, have felt unfamiliar – it is my hope that these philosophies have become an influential part of your daily work practice, and that you will continue in this vein.   

In 2019, when I first took on the role as Caltrans Director, none of us could have foreseen the challenges, hardships and ongoing uncertainties headed our way. You were asked to rise up and maneuver through these trying times-- and all of you went over and above to accomplish our goals directly serving Californians. 

These accomplishments are formed out of a substructure that we must continue to build upon. Our work has real meaning, and of that, you deserve to be proud.  

The identity shift Caltrans is experiencing is reflected in this quote from renowned anthropologist and primatologist Jane Goodall: “What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make."  

And together, we certainly are making a real difference. Caltrans' work springboards off of our Three Foundational Principles of Safety, Equity, and Climate Action as well as our Five Priorities of Safety, Modality, Innovation, Efficiency, and Partnerships. 

We have been deliberately guided by these Foundational Principles and led constructively by the Five Priorities. Our work has taken on an even greater purpose and I thank you for making it possible. 

Additionally, our establishment of the first Caltrans Equity Statement is one such impactful achievement by our Department. To acknowledge the negative effects the transportation system has had on underserved communities, and to make a commitment to eliminate barriers and advance equity, is putting people first with concrete action. 

I look forward to the day our necessary goal of zero roadway deaths and severe injuries is realized. To be a part of that momentous achievement, as you are, is nothing short of commendable and, truly, priceless. 

And as we continue to strive for cleaner air to breathe and an overall healthier environment, let me reassure you that your essential work is the most important factor getting us closer to achieving those goals every day. 

Thank you, all of you, for what you have done to improve our state’s transportation network and for your continued work toward California’s safe, equitable and healthy future. You have a lot to be proud of, and there is much more important, essential work to be done. Together, let’s keep the momentum going.