US Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx and CalSTA Secretary Brian Kelly tour High-Speed Rail Construction

On Monday, US Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx joined Secretary Brian Kelly for a tour of High-Speed Rail Authority (HSR) construction sites in Fresno County. Foxx met with a team of HSR staff including CEO Jeff Morales, Central Valley Regional Director Diana Gomez, and Construction Manager Hugo Mejia to be briefed on the project’s construction progress.  Approximately 119 miles of construction is underway in the Central Valley from Madera County to Kern County. Secretary Foxx’s visit was concentrated in Construction Package 1 which has eight active construction sites within a 32-mile stretch.


The tour began at the Fresno River Viaduct where Secretary Foxx looked at the first free standing structure of the system. The 1,600-foot aerial structure will carry high-speed trains over the Fresno River and State Route 145. Work on this site began in June 2015 and is expected to be complete by the end of 2016.


HSR CEO Jeff Morales shows Secretary Foxx and Secretary Kelly the Fresno River Viaduct aerial structure.


The next stop on Secretary Foxx’s visit was a visit the San Joaquin River Viaduct, a 4,740-foot structure that will span the San Joaquin river in North Fresno and the Union Pacific Railroad tracks parallel to State Route 99. The viaduct construction will feature arches to represent the northern gateway into the city of Fresno.

img_5253The Union Pacific structure adjoining State Route 99, HSR’s San Joaquin Viaduct will run parallel to this structure.


Secretary Foxx, CEO Jeff Morales, and Secretary Kelly stand on the San Joaquin Viaduct construction site.

Secretary Foxx’s tour of Construction Package 1 concluded at the Tuolumne Street Bridge in downtown Fresno where he was joined by Congressman Jim Costa and Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin.

The original Tuolumne Street Bridge was demolished to accommodate HSR and to create two-way vehicle traffic on the bridge to support the revitalization of Fresno’s city core. A month ago, crews poured concrete onto the deck of the new bridge which can be viewed here:


The new Tuolumne Street Bridge allows for two-way traffic into downtown Fresno.

Five small businesses are working on the construction of the Tuolumne Street structure including J. Kroeker, Inc., American Crane Rental, Inc., Parrish Hansen Engineering, Oliveira Fence, Inc., and Tommy’s Water Trucks. This is a small sampling of the 318 small businesses working on HSR which include 100 disadvantaged business enterprises and 36 disabled veteran business enterprises. In addition to this growth, HSR continues to support workforce development and job creation with over 350 students graduating from pre-apprenticeships and apprenticeship classes. There are over 680 skilled craft workers helping build HSR in the four construction packages. It is estimated that HSR will create over 3,500 permanent jobs throughout the state when HSR opens and expands its service.

The project continues to build as a carbon-neutral project, HSR requires its design-build contractors to recycle all concrete and steel and use the newest, cleanest diesel engines.  The project has used over 200 tons of 100% recycled steel in columns and structures. The project has recycled or stockpiled over 19,800 tons of concrete, steel, and other mixed construction materials. In the coming weeks, they will be planting trees to offset any construction emissions.

For more construction updates, visit Build HSR:

Caltrans To Do More Innovative Implosions of Old Bay Bridge Piers

OAKLAND – Caltrans continues the removal of the remaining marine foundations of the original east span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge (SFOBB). Beginning on Saturday, Caltrans will remove Piers E4 and E5 of the Old Bay Bridge with the same implosion method used to bring down Pier E3 last fall. This method reduces the environmental impact and costs to taxpayers.

Watch the Caltrans News Flash on the upcoming implosion:

“Caltrans appreciates the guidance environmental organizations and permitting agencies provided to achieve an effective underwater demolition plan for these two 1935 east span bridge foundations,” said Caltrans Bay Area District Director Bijan Sartipi.

Pier E5 will be imploded on October 15 with 8,000 pounds of explosives, in less than three seconds. Pier E4’s implosion will occur two weeks later, on October 29 in less than four seconds, with approximately 12,000 pounds of explosives.

Significant environmental monitoring will take place pre, during and post blast, including water quality, sonar, marine mammal and fish. October provides the window when the least possible number of fish and marine mammals are present in the area. There will be brief impacts to water quality, turbidity is expected to dissipate in just over an hour and implementation is relatively easy with low risk to human safety.

A Blast Attenuation System, better known as the “bubble curtain,” will minimize impacts to biological resources in the Bay on each foundation-blasting project. The implosion will again take place near “slack tide,” the time when tidal fluctuation is at a balance point between ebb and flow to help minimize potential impacts to the environment by maximizing the effectiveness of the Blast Attenuation System.

Last November, Caltrans successfully removed the 50 million pound Pier E3, the largest of the marine foundations, by use of highly controlled sequential charges. These innovative controlled charges have been shown to be more efficient and the environmentally preferable alternative to traditional marine foundation removal.

Beginning with the implosion of Piers E4 and E5 this month, there will be three consecutive blasting seasons over the next two years. Caltrans will demolish Piers E6 through E11 in fall 2017, and Piers E12 through E18 will be removed in late 2018, when the demolition project is scheduled for completion.

There will be rolling closures on the Bay Bridge during the demolition. Caltrans will also close the bridge’s bike path. The removal of the piers on October 15 coincides with the 10th anniversary of the Treasure Island Music Festival. For more information on the festival or to send an inquiry to festival organizers, see the following links:

Music festival contacts page:

We have limited space for media personnel and vehicles, so please confirm media attendance at Pier 1 to cover the blast by submitting name(s) to:

Submitted names will be placed on the media list for approved entrance at Avenue N. The media will be guided, by festival personnel, to the designated area on Pier 1.

While there are no public viewing areas, the public may watch the implosion on October 15 between noon – 12:40 pm at the following link:


Caltrans Performs Test Blast, Implosion Dates Set for 10/15 and 10/29

Today, Caltrans performed a test blast in preparation for the upcoming implosions of two piers of the old Bay Bridge scheduled for later this month.  The test blast allowed Caltrans to test the Environmental monitoring systems, bird cannon, bubble curtain, safety checks and signals.


The Pier E4 and Pier E5 implosions are scheduled for October 15 and October 29 during slack tide pending weather conditions. Caltrans performed a walk-through with environmental and biological experts earlier this week to ensure that no protected species is harmed. Each implosion is a coordinated effort to ensure limited environmental impact on the Bay and wildlife. Caltrans produced a news flash detailing the efforts of staff to limit that impact:

We’ll continue to post more updates on the action, traffic concerns, and other implosion related information so be sure to keep your eyes on our blog. Don’t forget to check Twitter next Saturday at @ca_trans_agency as we show the E5 implosion in action.

In the meantime, you can watch last year’s implosion here:

For more about the implosion process:

CA DMV Seeks Public Comment on New Rules for Autonomous Vehicles

Sacramento – Continuing progress toward operation of fully autonomous vehicles on California roads, the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) released revised draft regulations for public comment.   These draft rules are intended to encourage public dialogue and gather input prior to the DMV formally submitting the regulations for consideration and adoption.

The recently released Federal Automated Vehicles Policy sets a direction for addressing vehicle safety at the federal level, and California’s revised draft regulations take this new policy into account and focus on rules for California public roads,  including testing requirements, enforcement of traffic laws, driver licensing, and vehicle registration.

In addition to carefully reviewing all public feedback on previous draft regulations, the DMV actively collaborated with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators on the state’s role in regulating autonomous vehicles.

The revised draft regulations continue to ensure that the safety of the motoring public remains the DMV’s top priority and recognizes the potential of autonomous technology to improve safety, enhance mobility and encourage innovation.  Some highlights include:

  1. Prior to testing or deploying an autonomous vehicle, manufactures will certify that they meet NHTSA vehicle performance guidance for automated vehicles, which uses a 15-point safety assessment.
  2. A regulatory framework for driverless vehicles that provides a path for fully autonomous vehicles to first be tested and operated on California roads.
  3. A licensed driver is required for vehicles capable of autonomous operation in some instances, but a human driver must be ready to take control when requested by the autonomous system, these are also known as “SAE Level 3 vehicles.”
  4. Prohibits the advertisement of lower levels of automated systems, where the human driver is still responsible for monitoring or control of the vehicle, as “autonomous”, “self-driving” or other similar terms.

These revised draft regulations represent the next step in the process to encourage public dialogue and collect feedback prior to the DMV formally submitting the regulations for consideration and adoption. To gather additional public input on the proposed changes, the Department is holding a public workshop Wednesday, October 19 in Sacramento.  In addition, representatives from NHTSA will discuss the recently released Federal Automated Vehicles Policy.  The DMV invites all interested parties to attend the upcoming public workshop.

Autonomous Vehicle Public Workshop

Wednesday, October 19, 2016
9:30 a.m.
California State Capitol
Senate Committee Room 4203
1315 10th St, Sacramento, CA 95814

Written comments may be submitted to:  The event will also be open to credentialed media.

The revised draft autonomous vehicle deployment regulations and workshop notice are available on the DMV Autonomous Vehicles webpage at:

CA welcomes Federal Automated Vehicle Policy

California State Transportation Agency Secretary Brian P. Kelly issued this statement on Federal Automated Vehicle Policy:

“The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the State of California share the common objective of seeing driverless vehicle technology developed, tested and deployed safely and efficiently on our public streets and roads.  NHTSA’s policy guidance unveiled today is a leap forward in this process, enabling California to advance vehicle safety, innovation and sustainability in the Golden State.  With more than 3,200 traffic-related fatalities and more than 90% of accidents attributed to human error in this state, it is time to unleash the promise of autonomous vehicles to improve public safety. Within the next 30 days, the Department of Motor Vehicles will host a public workshop to gather input from industry, consumer and public interest groups, and the public on revised draft state regulations for the testing and deployment of autonomous vehicles in California.”

The California Department of Motor Vehicles also issued a statement, below:

“The DMV welcomes the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) release of the Federal Automated Vehicle Policy. The DMV worked closely with NHTSA and the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) on the model state policy contained within the document. The DMV supports NHTSA’s goal of creating a consistent approach and national framework for the testing and deployment of autonomous vehicles.

The DMV is currently reviewing NHTSA’s Federal Automated Vehicle Policy and is planning to release revised draft California regulations in the coming weeks. The department will hold a public workshop to solicit input on those revised draft regulations on October 19, 2016.”

Wednesday, October 19, 2016
9:30 a.m.
Capitol Room 4203
1315 10th St, Sacramento, CA 95814

 Read the Federal Automated Vehicle Policy here:

For more information on the California DMV’s autonomous vehicle regulations, visit:


CalSTA goes on a reality ride to highlight the dangers of distracted driving

On Tuesday, California Highway Patrol Captain Josh Ehlers and Department of Motor Vehicles Director Jean Shiomoto participated in Allstate’s Reality Rides event along with Assembly Member Jim Frazier to encourage drivers to practice safe driving habits.

Distracted driving results in over 3,000 deaths and causes over 400,000 injuries each year. It is the number one cause of death in Americans between the ages of 11 and 27. DMV researchers have found that drivers with multiple cell phone violations on their records experience almost twice as many subsequent crashes as drivers with no violations. Research has also shown that receiving a text or phone call, even if you do not answer or look at the phone, can be a significant distraction while driving.

CHP Captain Josh Elhers asked that drivers with more experience lead by example for teenagers and inexperienced drivers by putting away their phones and practicing safe driving behaviors behind the wheel.


DMV Director Jean Shiomoto shared the important statistics on the dangers of distracted driving and reminded the community that DMV is committed to educating the public on these dangers through their handbooks and Fast Facts. “Distracted driving could put you, and anyone you know, in danger,” Shiomoto said.


Allstate is touring the country with its distracted driving simulator with the goal of preventing avoidable collisions and building awareness about the dangers of distracted driving.  The stationary car is equipped with virtual-reality technology that displays a responsive animated environment on a LED television embedded in the windshield.  Using the steering wheel, gas and brake pedals, participants attempted to drive while they tried to text.

DMV’s Deputy Director of Communications, Jessica Gonzalez went on a test drive of the simulator to show us just how dangerous distracted driving can be. After the simulation was over, she received an example citation which showed all the infractions she had committed. Participants also took a pledge to “X the Text” and commit to putting away their phone while behind the wheel.

In addition to the simulator, DMV and CHP staff were on hand at informational booths to hand out materials on safe driving and answer questions from the community.