Announcing 2023 Outstanding Management and Engineering in Transportation Award Winners
The Outstanding Management and Engineering in Transportation Awards, also known as the Moskowitz, Purcell, Rhinehart and Roberts awards, recognize valued contributions to the field of transportation by Caltrans registered engineers, engineering managers and nonengineering managers.
Karl Moskowitz Award
Senior Transportation Engineer
Marissa Nishikawa’s profound engineering and managerial expertise has been evident in the many complex projects she has completed successfully during her 32 years with Caltrans. As a Senior Design Engineer, she conveys an innovative, inclusive, and clear-eyed approach to all of her endeavors, consistently leading teams and colleagues to maximize efficiency, promote professional excellence, and bring in project schedules on time.
Marissa knows that the best way of doing a particular task may sometimes deviate from traditional practice, a situation that calls for a leader that can recognize the challenges involved and work to forge a win-win solution. For example, when she was the Design Senior on a complicated project and the contractor proposed a Value Engineering Change Proposal (VECP), she thoroughly evaluated the proposal and embraced its unconventional recommendation. Although most of the Project Team was not initially in favor of the VECP, Marissa’s had the patience and well-honed ability to engage colleagues, stakeholders and resource agencies to bridge the differences and achieve consensus.
Marissa’s many contributions to Caltrans go beyond her impressive engineering accomplishments. She is known for going the extra mile and leading by example to ensure that the many new engineers she has supervised are thriving as full members of the Caltrans Team. Through her mentorship and leadership, Marissa has inspired a multitude of transportation engineers and technicians to reach their professional career goals while providing meaningful contributions to the communities in which we work.
The Karl Moskowitz Award annually recognizes contributions by Caltrans registered engineers to the field of transportation engineering. Mr. Moskowitz served as a Caltrans traffic engineer for 27 years. Much of his work in freeway design and traffic flow appeared at the outset of the Interstate highway program and was used extensively by planners and engineers nationwide, thus becoming the national standard.
Charles H. Purcell:
Srikanth “Sri” Balasubramanian
Deputy Division Chief
Division of Traffic Operations
Srikanth “Sri” Balasubramanian has been a consistently impactful advocate for safety, efficiency, and accountability throughout his thirty-year Caltrans career, always looking for new ways to do our work better, faster, and cheaper without compromising safety and integrity. Since his early days as a Caltrans field engineer, to his current role as Division Deputy Chief in Traffic Operations, Sri has taken on leadership roles at the forefront of change and innovation.
In numerous instances, Sri has worked extensively with State, federal, and local partners to improve engineering processes that have reduced costs and expedited project delivery. For example, Sri led Caltrans’ strategic planning effort and the California Innovative Corridors Initiative that led to the rapid deployment of new ITS technology. He also advanced Caltrans’ efforts toward Zero Deaths on the State Highway System through numerous innovative and collaborative efforts.
At different points in his outstanding career, Sri was responsible for leading the Caltrans’ Department Operation Center, was the Caltrans representative to the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, and led the first implementation of contraflow for emergencies. Sri also established the Caltrans Office of Emergency Management that focuses on managing emergency response, winter operations, and hazardous materials.
Significantly, in one of California’s greatest time of need, Sri was instrumental in implementing critical statewide initiatives in response to the Covid-19 pandemic by focusing on communicating public health information, supporting truck drivers, and ensuring the continued shipment of essential goods.
Sri’s career represents the best characteristics of civil service: fiscal responsibility, commitment, integrity, and pride.
The Charles H. Purcell Award recognizes valued contributions by Caltrans engineering managers to the field of transportation engineering and transportation program management. Mr. Purcell served as California’s State Highway Engineer from 1928 to 1943 and as Director of Public Works until 1951. He established California’s extraordinary record of leadership and integrity in transportation engineering and guided the construction of the San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge and the State Highway System.
Bimla G. Rhinehart:
Maintenance Manager I
District 10 Maintenance
Jesus Zuniga, a seasoned Maintenance Manger I in District 10, is celebrated by colleagues and partners alike for his exceptional ability to move projects forward by ensuring that everyone involved – engineers, specialists, and contractors – are literally on the same page. He is uncannily adept at breaking down a complicated project into its discrete phases and components, so all participants understand their roles and responsibilities, and coordinates all concerned for the best possible results.
In approaching and performing his many daily duties, Jesus consistently thinks outside the box. He works to improve the District’s processes and outcomes by streamlining how the Maintenance units operate, keeping costs low by finding innovative ways to reuse our existing tools and equipment, and maintaining excellent records, including reference documents, so that, if he were to be called away on another task, a colleague could smoothly temporarily assume his duties.
Jesus leads by example, always the first one to volunteer for committees by monitoring and promoting Maintenance activities and achievements. He enjoys coaching and mentoring staff, helping them achieve their employment goals and explore new jobs and promotions with confidence. Jesus is an engaged listener and an enthusiastic life-long learner, talents that serves his colleagues, his community, and Caltrans very well.
The Bimla G. Rhinehart Award recognizes contributions to the transportation field by non-engineering Caltrans managers. This may include, but is not limited to, surveyors, architects, lawyers, planners, landscape architects, administrators, right-of-way agents, maintenance managers, rail, aeronautics, and mass transportation managers. Ms. Rhinehart was known across the state for her amazing ability to create strong relationships and partnerships that benefitted Californians and moved transportation projects forward. During her 27 years with the California Department of Transportation, she served as the Division Chief of Right of Way and Land Surveys, Acting Division Chief of Budgets, Deputy Director of External Affairs and Special Projects Manager. She also served as Executive Director of the California Transportation Commission and was a member of the Toll Bridge Program Oversight Committee.
James E. Roberts:
Senior Bridge Engineer
Division of Engineering Services
With over 30 years of experience as a structural and bridge engineer with an extensive background in design, construction, and research, Dr. Kyoung-Hyeog Lee has played a key role in the development of many of Caltrans’ recent engineering adaptions and innovations.
National committees and professional engineering communities often call on Kyoung’s expertise. In his constant search for new design methods, he identified Ultra-High-Performance Concrete (UHPC) and Lightweight Cellular Concrete (LCC) options for a complex ABC project. He has been a frequent contributor to various professional engineering journals, institutes, and professional and research organizations.
The Division of Engineering Services and Highway Safety Features New Products Committee (HSFNPC) recognized the need for a crashworthy side-mounted bridge rail usable in areas where the speed limit exceeds 45 mph. In that regard, Kyoung invented a spring damper system, the first MASH-approved (Manual for Assessing Safety Hardware) Test Level 4 Steel Side Mounted Barrier Rail system in the United States.
Kyoung worked on some of California’s most iconic structures, including the Feather River Bridge in Sutter County and the Devil Slide Bridge in San Mateo County. He ensured the expedited delivery and the smooth transition to public use with sound engineering judgment based on his exemplary dedication to improving the lives of countless Californians.
The James E. Roberts Award annually recognizes outstanding contributions by Caltrans registered engineers to the field of transportation structures. Mr. Roberts served as a structural engineer and manager for more than half a century, including 15 years as California’s State Bridge Engineer. He spearheaded Caltrans’ $4.5 billion seismic retrofit program and oversaw nearly $50 million in seismic research projects. He was named to the National Academy of Engineering in 1996, and retired in 2001 as Chief Deputy Director.