FAQs

For specifics on laws in California as they relate to Caltrans and motor vehicles, We recommend you consult the the California Streets & Highways Code or the California Vehicle Code.

Recent reorganizing of transportation priorities in California has resulted in the responsibility for rideshare programs being shifted to local/regional transportation agencies. For rideshare information, contact the local agency in your area, call 1-800-COMMUTE, or visit our Smart Traveler web page .

For information about Caltrans bids and contracts, visit our Contractor's Corner web site.

To report a maintenance related problem, such as a pot hole, broken sprinkler, malfunctioning signal, broken or missing sign, litter, graffiti, landscaping, lines and markers, etc... please use our Customer Service Request

To report a problem such as traffic tie ups, back ups, car pool lanes, messages on electronic signs, construction projects etc. contact the Public Affairs Officer in your locality.

For the latest road conditions, we recommend you check real-time traffic on our QuickMap app (also available for download to mobile devices ), visit our Highway Information page, or call 1-800-427-7623. Know before you go and have a safe journey.

For information about employment at Caltrans, we recommend you check out our Human Resources Program or the California Department of Human Resources (CalHR)'s CalCareers website.

Let us assure you that there are no immediate plans to get rid of Botts' Dots. Caltrans is simply experimenting with different types of striping that shows promise for providing better visibility, durability and, yes, providing a tell-tale thump under tires to warn motorists if they drift out of their lane. It was experiments such as these that led to the development of Botts' Dots in the 1950s, and we are always looking for ways to do things better and safer. The bottom line is that for a vast majority of highway applications, Botts' Dots are here to stay.

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is primarily responsible for designing, building and maintaining the state's highway system. For information on licensing, vehicle registration and laws, contact the California Department of Motor Vehicles.

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is primarily responsible for designing, building and maintaining the state's highway system. For information about highway laws and enforcement, contact the California Highway Patrol, which enforces the vehicle code in California.

For specifics on laws in California as they relate to Caltrans and motor vehicles, We recommend you consult the the California Streets & Highways Code or the California Vehicle Code.
>The Closed-Circuit Television Cameras you mention are being installed on many freeways in urban areas. The pictures are beamed into our Traffic Management Centers across the state, where the images are used to verify reported incidents and to dispatch the appropriate response. Ultimately, we hope to make some of these pictures available on this web page so commuters can make informed decisions as to when to take a trip on the freeway. There are strict guidelines regarding the use and transmission of these pictures. They are strictly for traffic management use only, not for law enforcement

Weather forecasting is a function of the National Weather Service.

National Weather Service National Forecast Maps

Our Road Information Page lists current or immediate-future conditions and road work. To find out more about Caltrans road work in your area we recommend that you contact your local Caltrans district office. Some districts post the week-ahead road work schedule on-line, and others you will need to call or e-mail for the information.

For information on transporting hazardous waste, we recommend you contact the California Highway Patrol and/or the Public Utilities Commission.

To operate in California, all hazardous waste transporters must be registered with the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC). Unless specifically exempted, hazardous waste transporters must comply with the California Highway Patrol Regulations; the California State Fire Marshal Regulations; and the United States Department of Transportation Regulations. In addition, hazardous waste transporters must comply with Division 20, Chapter 6.5, Article 6 and 13 of the California Health and Safety Code and the Title 22, Division 4.5, Chapter 13, of the California Code of Regulations which are administered by DTSC.

For more information, see DTSC's Transporters page.

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is primarily responsible for designing, building and maintaining the state's highway system. We do not have jurisdiction over local city and county roads. We recommend you contact the local roads/public works department of the city in which the road resides to pass on your concerns.

For information about surplus Caltrans equipment, we recommend you contact Mr. Kevin Anderson at the Caltrans Equipment Service Center at 916-227-9682. Email: Kevin Andersen@dot.ca.gov

"Sig-Alerts" are unique to Southern California. They came about in the 1940s when the L.A.P.D. got in the habit of alerting a local radio reporter, Loyd Sigmon, of bad car wrecks on city streets. These notifications became known as "Sig-Alerts." Later Mr. Sigmon developed an electronic device that authorities could use to alert the media of disasters. Caltrans latched on to the term "Sig-Alert" and it has come to be known as any traffic incident that will tie up two or more lanes of a freeway for two or more hours.

If you feel that you have lost money or property as a result of any action or inaction by a State of California agency, officer, or employee, you can file a claim with the Government Claims Program. This program gives you the opportunity to formally demand compensation for your loss, and may lead to a settlement of your claim without the need to file a lawsuit. For more information about the Government Claims Program or to request a claim form, write to:

Mailing Address

Government Claims Program
Office of Risk and Insurance Management
Department of General Services
P.O. Box 989052, MS 414
West Sacramento, CA 95798-9052

General Information

Phone (toll-free): 1-800-955-0045
Email: gcinfo@dgs.ca.gov
Website:

Accidents on the state highway system are investigated by the California Highway Patrol, and they compile many reports on the subject.

Reports of live traffic incidents can be found on the CHP Traffic Incident Information Page.

You can order Caltrans publications from our Publications List.

Here is the Vehicle Code citation regarding snow tires:

27460. Any passenger vehicle or motortruck having an unladen weight of 6,500 pounds or less and operated and equipped with four-wheel drive and with snow-tread tires on all four drive wheels may be operated upon any portion of a highway without tire traction devices, notwithstanding the fact that the highway is signed for the requirement of those devices and provided that tire traction devices for at least one set of drive wheels are carried in or upon the vehicle. The snow-tread tires shall meet the requirements specified in Section 27459, and the vehicle shall not, when so operated, tow another vehicle except as may be necessary to move a disabled vehicle from the roadway.

No person shall use those tires on four-wheel drive vehicles in place of tire traction devices whenever weather and roadway conditions at the time are such that the stopping, tractive, and cornering abilities of the tires are not adequate or whenever the Department of Transportation or local authorities, in their respective jurisdictions, place signs prohibiting their operation unless equipped with tire traction devices.

To find out more about Caltrans efforts to increase participation of disadvantaged businesses we recommend you visit our Office of Civil Rights (OCR).

New bridge tolls were not set by Caltrans, but rather by the California Legislature as a way to finance the very expensive retrofit of Bay Area toll bridges. You can voice your concerns about Bay Area bridge tolls to your local elected officials. You can also explore the other options available to you, including the use of transit and car-pooling. If you would like to read more about toll schedules, you can visit the Bay Area Toll Authority (BATA).

You can find statewide traffic counts on our Traffic Census Program page.

Correspondence to our Director should be addressed as follows:

Mr.Bob Franzoia
Director California Department of Transportation
Director's Office, MS-49
1120 N St.
Sacramento, CA 95814

The trucking industry in California is regulated by the following agencies:

For air emissions regulations, contact the Air Resources Board (ARB).

For drivers license or vehicle registration, contact the Department of Motor Vehicles.

For inspections, highway safety and laws, contact the California Highway Patrol (CHP).

For licensing of household goods carriers and tour buses, contact the California Public Utilities Commission.

For fuel taxes contact the California Board of Equalization.

For hauling animals, crops and produce, contact the California Department of Food & Agriculture.

Caltrans Traffic Operations Program contains information on:

  • Truck Operations
  • Oversize/Overweight Permits
  • Legal Truck Size & Weight
  • Legal Truck Size & Weight -- Exemptions
  • Truck Routes
  • 45' Buses & Motorhomes
  • Weigh Stations/Enforcement Facilities
  • Weigh-in-Motion

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is primarily responsible for designing, building and maintaining the state's highway system. For information on vehicle standards, I recommend you contact the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Caltrain is not affiliated with Caltrans. Visit Caltrain website.

For information on Caltrans land for sale, visit our Excess Lands - Properties for Sale page.

For information on alternative fuel vehicles, contact the California Air Resources Board. They have been the lead state agency in encouraging the development of alternative fuel vehicles in California.

For comprehensive visitor and tourism information, see Visit California.

For a complete list of specifications, please visit our Design Program.

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is primarily responsible for designing, building and maintaining the state's highway system. For information on parking, please contact your city managers.

The State of California, Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is responsible for the design, construction, maintenance, and operation of the California State Highway System, as well as that portion of the Interstate Highway System within the state's boundaries. Alone and in partnership with Amtrak, Caltrans is also involved in the support of intercity passenger rail service in California, and is a leader in promoting the use of alternative modes of transportation. The current framework of Caltrans was set down by Assembly Bill 69 in 1972.

Highway workers must repair damage from accidents, prolong the life of the highway and maintain landscapes. They also do safety projects, reconstruction of old roads and building new ones. As California's highways get busier, they require more and more upkeep.

Caltrans works at night whenever possible in order to minimize the impact on traffic and on the traveling public. Most road improvements on major construction projects are being done at night for this reason. However, there may be certain periods during our major projects when it's necessary to work during the daylight hours.

Caltrans begins easing traffic out of the lane that is being worked on in about three-tenths of a mile from the work site for safety. This gives even the most the inattentive driver time to safely merge into an available lane.

Caltrans often does not post a slower speed limit in work zones, but motorists are advised to slow down and proceed with caution whenever signs of highway work are present. Highway workers' safety depends on how well you drive. When three lanes of traffic are channeled into two, traffic tends to move slower. Driving in an unsafe manner or at an unsafe speed in a work zone could mean an expensive citation from the California Highway Patrol -- state law now allows for a doubling of traffic fines when they occur in highway work areas.

Caltrans usually puts up signs and other "traffic control" devices only if work is going on. However, workers may have to leave because of an accident, to get materials or for other reasons. Also, sometimes work is not clearly visible to motorists, like when it occurs underneath a bridge or in the superstructure. Other times, a lane may be blocked to allow concrete to dry.

Cones are spaced 50 feet apart where Caltrans workers are "tapering" to shut of a lane, and 100 feet apart at the closed lane. That marks the work site and discourages people from trying to drive into the closed lane, which can result in tragic consequences. The fact that cones appear to be just a few feet apart helps illustrate that things move fast at freeway speeds -- another good reason to slow down in a work zone.

No. They may be city or county or private workers, or even probationers working off their time. Caltrans does its own maintenance work, but for new projects or major reconstruction, private contractors are hired. To identify Caltrans workers, look for the white hard hats and orange trucks with the CT logo on the side.

Those are probationers, inmates or workfare people. This program reduces crowding in jails and provides more than $10 million in service annually to the State of California. Probationers are non-violent offenders and are supervised at all times by the much happier-looking Caltrans personnel in the white hard hats.

The bells have been in place since the early part of the century to mark the original route of "El Camino Real" from San Diego to Sonoma. The 700-mile-long El Camino Real linked California's 21 missions, which were founded by Father Junipero Serra and spaced one day's journey apart by horse. Over the years the El Caminio Real gave way to modern highways, primarily Routes 101 and 82. The bells were first paid for and erected by the El Camino Real Association in the early 1900s. Originally there were about 450 bells along El Camino Real, but because of theft and vandalism the number dwindled to about 75. In response, the Legislature appointed Caltrans as guardian of the bells in 1974, responsible for repairing or replacing them. Replacements are made of concrete, rather than cast iron, to discourage theft. The bells are located in the following counties: Los Angeles, Ventura, San Benito, Monterey, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, San Mateo and Santa Clara. A mission bell exhibit is a permanent part of the Ventura County Museum of History and Art, complete with original cast-iron bells donated by Caltrans.

Those are known as raised pavement markers, or "Botts’ Dots." In 1953, Dr. Elbert D. Botts, working in the Caltrans materials testing lab in Sacramento, came upon the idea of using a raised pavement marker to help make the painted lines separating lanes last longer. After a many refinements, the use of Botts' Dots were mandated for all California freeways, except in areas where they would be damaged in snow-removal operations. The ubiquitous little buttons have since been adopted around the world. In addition to making lanes easier to distinguish, the markers also had an additional -- and originally unintended -- safety benefit: to alert motorists when they drift out of their lane. There are an estimated 20 million Botts” Dots in place today on California freeways and highways -- a lasting legacy to Mr. Botts, who passed away in 1962.

Yes, the California Department of Transportation is studying the cost and effectiveness of raised pavement markers and their use in varying situations around California. No, Caltrans is not thinking about getting rid of them any time soon. For more information, read our Botts' Dots Fact Sheet.

Stopping cars momentarily at on-ramps can save motorists several minutes per trip because overall freeway congestion is reduced. "Ramp meters" are a familiar sight to California motorists, having made their debut in 1966 at the intersection of Routes 5 and 14 in northern Los Angeles County. Since then, the ubiquitous signals at urban on-ramps have helped regulate the smooth flow of vehicles on to the freeway and thereby ensure that freeways operate at maximum capacity. Today, more than 1,000 ramp meters are in operation statewide. Recently, the concept of metering has been expanded to help alleviate congestion at freeway interchanges, which have traditionally experienced some of the worst congestion on the freeway system. Freeway-to-freeway connector ramp meters were first put in use in 1978 along the westbound Route 94 corridor in San Diego. In 1992, a freeway-to-freeway connector ramp meter was installed in Los Angeles County at the transition from southbound Route 5 and westbound Route 110. The Glenn Anderson (105) Freeway is the first freeway to employ connector ramp metering on full interchanges when it opened in 1993. These signals in some cases employ the traditional red-amber-green signalization typical of local street intersections, rather than the red-green lights more common on on-ramp meters. Connector ramp meters were put in place at four interchanges along Interstate 105: At the San Diego (405) Freeway, the Harbor (110) Freeway, the Long Beach (710) Freeway and the San Gabriel River (605) Freeway. Flashing overhead warning signs alert motorists that the meters are ahead as they make the transition from one freeway to another. Sensors embedded in the pavement are linked to computers, which will adjust the meters automatically to optimize the movement of traffic through the interchange. Motorists come to appreciate the value of ramp meters when they don't work -- on the few occasions when they have been shut off due to malfunction or maintenance, allowing cars to enter the freeway at random, freeway traffic can backup for miles.

Of the more than 4,000 miles of freeways in California, about 1,000 miles are open to bicyclists. These open sections are usually in rural areas where there is no alternate route. California Vehicle Code Section 21960 says Caltrans and local agencies may prohibit bicyclists from traveling on freeways under their jurisdiction and that they must erect signs stating the prohibition. There are no signs permitting bicyclists on freeways. When a bicyclist is legally traveling on a freeway, he/she may be directed off the freeway at the next off-ramp by a sign that says "Bicycles Must Exit." The freeway will be posted at the next on-ramp with a sign that says "Bicycles Prohibited."

Only the California State Legislature can officially name a state highway. This is done in the form of a "Concurrent Resolution (CR)," which can be introduced by either the Assembly (ACR) or by the Senate (SCR). The resolution will appear in the statutes of the year it was passed. Once done, Caltrans puts up signs, which are paid for by the sponsors or friends of the person it is being named after.

Since the Adopt-a-Highway program began in 1989, more than 120,000 Californians representing more than 6,000 groups have volunteered to pick up roadside litter, paint over graffiti, plant wildflowers and perform other beautification work. Typically a group agrees to "adopt" a two-mile section of freeway or highway, and keep it litter-free for two years. Caltrans trains the volunteers and provides them with white hard hats, vests and bags. Caltrans also erects special blue and white signs alongside the highway to recognize the good deed. Over the years, Adopt-a-Highway volunteers have collected more than 423,000 cubic yards of litter and debris, or enough trash to fill a line of dump trucks, parked bumper-to-bumper, from San Francisco to San Luis Obispo. Their efforts have provided the state with an estimated $120 million in free labor, and enabled Caltrans maintenance workers to concentrate on more pressing needs. To participate in the program, contact your local Caltrans office and ask to speak to the "Adopt-a-Highway" coordinator, or call 916-654-2926.

No. They are strictly to report roadside emergencies to the California Highway Patrol dispatch center. Other calls will not be connected.

Currently, 29 of the state's 58 counties have call box programs. These range from the system in Los Angeles County, with more than 4,000 call boxes, to Humboldt and Del Norte counties, where only a few call boxes have been installed in particularly isolated areas. Statewide, there are 15,000 call boxes, lining some 6,300 miles of California highways. Call boxes throughout California generate more than 100,000 calls per month. All costs associated with the call box program are paid for by a $1 annual fee assessed on vehicles registered in the participating county. Caltrans, the California Highway Patrol and regional "SAFE" agencies ("Service Authority for Freeways and Expressways") jointly operate the program. Some counties in California, generally in rural areas, do not have call boxes. The primary reason is that these counties do not have enough registered vehicles to purchase, operate and maintain a system of call boxes.

A supplier who wants to sell products to the State of California should send a letter addressed to

eProcurement Unit
Department of General Services
Procurement DIvision
707 3rd Street, 2nd Floor
West Sacramento, CA 95605

For more information, visit the DGS Procurement Division page.

 

For products related directly to the Highway System,view our Product Evaluation Program (PEP).

College and high school students should talk to their School Placement Coordinator about getting any state job, including Caltrans jobs, during the summer and also for work experience credit. The California Community Colleges Foundation (CCCF) creates and distributes student job announcements to appropriate campuses.

Caltrans purchases approximately 41,000 traffic cones annually and, at any one time, has approximately 60 to 80 thousand on hand statewide.

Claims for $10,000 or less

If you feel that you have lost money or property as a result of any action or inaction by Caltrans and your claim is for $10,000 or less, you can file your claim directly with Caltrans. No fee is required for claims against Caltrans which are $10,000 and under. Look up where to file your claim.

Claims for over $10,000

If your claim is for over $10,000 or concerns a different department or agency of the State of California, you must file a claim with the Government Claims Program. This program gives you the opportunity to formally demand compensation for your loss, and may lead to a settlement of your claim without the need to file a lawsuit. For more information about the Government Claims Program or to request a claim form, write to:

Mailing Address

Government Claims Program
Office of Risk and Insurance Management
Department of General Services
P.O. Box 989052, MS 414
West Sacramento, CA 95798-9052

General Information

Phone (toll-free): 1-800-955-0045
Email: gcinfo@dgs.ca.gov
Website:

"High Occupancy Vehicle" lane, or car-pool lane. The central concept for HOV lanes is to move more people rather than more cars. Some HOV lanes carry almost half of the people carried on the entire freeway. Regular "mixed-flow" lanes are never converted to HOV lanes. Rather, HOV lanes are always added to existing facilities. Each vehicle that travels on an HOV lane must carry the minimum number of people posted at the entrance signs. Usually that means at least two people, or in some cases three people. Each child counts as an occupant, but pets, infants still in the womb, inflatable dolls or ghosts do not (we've heard 'em all). Violators are subject to a minimum $481 fine. Exceptions: Motorcycles, even those carrying just one person, are allowed to use the HOV lanes. Some HOV lanes are in operation only during certain hours, which are posted. Outside of those hours, they may be used by all vehicles.

Locations of all State of California historical markers can be found on the California State Parks Office of Historic Preservation "California Historical Landmarks By County" page.

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) currently maintains approximately 500,000 traffic signs on our State highway system. Of the total, approximately 480,000 are ground-mounted regulatory, warning, construction or service signs constructed primarily of aluminum substrate with retroreflective sheeting background and copy. The remaining 20,000 signs are overhead guide signing.

You can learn about Caltrans' current Director and all of Caltrans Executive Management on our Caltrans Executive Biographies page.

Highway memorials along the road creates hazardous situations for travelers. As much as we would like to allow grieving friends and relatives to place personal tributes to lost loved ones, it really isn't safe to locate them along the highway. Unfortunately, displays of this nature can also be a distraction to other drivers, thereby jeopardizing their safety as well. Consequently, Caltrans does not allow memorials to be placed on the state right-of-way.

Thank you for your interest in participating in the State of California Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE), Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) and Women Business Enterprise (WBE) program.

The purpose of the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), Civil Rights Program is to increase the level of participation of disadvantaged businesses in all Federal contracting activities. Pursuant to Federal regulations, to participate in our program, qualifying firms must first be certified as a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) by the Caltrans Civil Rights Program. Firms interested in certification as a Small Business (SB) or  Disabled Veteran Business Enterprise (DVBE) should contact the Department of General Services, Office of Small and Minority Business (OSBCR) (916) 322-5060. 

The Division of Structure Maintenance and Investigations is responsible for managing the department's transportation structures. This includes performing bridge inspections in accordance with federal regulations on over 12,000 State Highway bridges and approximately 12,200 bridges owned by local government agencies. Other responsibilities include making structure work repair recommendations, determining the safe load capacity of all bridges, reviewing and approving encroachment permits and air space lease proposals involving structures, delivering plans, specifications and estimates for bridge maintenance projects, and coordinating the protective coating work on over 800 state highway steel bridges.

This Division also has the lead responsibility for the investigation and repair of structures damaged by vehicular collision, fire, flood, earthquake etc.

The Air Resources Board (ARB) has information regarding qualifying vehicles for carpool lane use. The DMV is the agency that provides the carpool lane sticker to vehicles that qualify once the customer fills out the necessary DMV application form. To view the complete list of vehicles that do qualify, or to download the DMV application form, see ARB's Carpool Stickers page.

Should you have other questions or need further assistance please call (800) 242-4450 for more information.

If your RV or motorhome is 40 feet long or less, or your RV plus a trailer is 65 feet long or less, you can travel virtually anywhere in California. For single-unit motorhomes (and tour buses) that are over 40 feet up to 45 feet in length, see our Legal Truck Access page.

Information about 45-foot motorhomes and buses in California.

This question is not exactly the easiest to answer because, depending upon when the original portion of a freeway was constructed, the widths can vary. They can also vary a little where lanes have been added to a freeway and there is no more room for expansion.

Overall, the following widths are fairly standard through the state.

An eight lane freeway would consist of an outside shoulder, four travel lanes, an inside shoulder and then on the other side, lanes going in the opposite direction, would be the inside shoulder, 4 travel lanes and an outside shoulder.

Outside Shoulders are generally 10' 4 lanes of travel way are 48' (12' per lane) Inside Shoulders are 8' So overall an eight-lane freeway would be 132' wide on an average.

Inside shoulders can vary from 5' to 8', Outside shoulders can vary from 5' to 10' and travel lanes depending upon the type of highway can vary from 10' to 15'.

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is primarily responsible for designing, building and maintaining the state's highway system. For information on licensing, vehicle registration and laws, visit the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

Every year Caltrans receives thousands of requests for information from students and researchers. We are not staffed to handle these requests individually, but some of our on-line resources are listed below:

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is primarily responsible for designing, building and maintaining the state's highway system. For information about child car seats, contact the Department of Motor Vehicles. Legislation requires (operative on January 1, 2002) that children be in a car seat (age appropriate) until the child is 6 years of age or weighs 60 pounds or more. You can check with the Department of Motor Vehicles for clear language and laws on child passenger restraint systems.