Winter Storms Continue to Impact Transportation Infrastructure

More than 4,000 Caltrans employees are working 24/7 to repair state roadways impacted by recent storms and destabilized soil. Every region in California has been impacted by the winter storms.

There has been an estimated $401 million in storm damage to the state highway system at 190 locations. The stress placed on the state highway system by extreme weather continues to underline the need for stable sources of transportation funding to maintain California’s  aging roads.


State Route 49 from Yuba Pass to Sattley was closed in both directions when a section of highway slid away during February storms. Caltrans hopes to open one lane of the highway on February 17, 2017, weather permitting. Photo courtesy of Caltrans 

Meteorologists are predicting storm systems to impact California beginning Thursday and by Monday, the state may receive three to eight inches of rainfall, and snow levels could drop as low as 5,000 feet in Northern California.

Crews are currently working to restore full access to the following roadways; however, an estimated time of reopening is unavailable due to the incoming storm:

  • State Route 1 near Leggett in Mendocino County has been closed since February 3 due to an active slide. Cleanup to reopen the highway has been slow due to the instability of the slide and concern for worker safety.
  • S. Highway 50 in El Dorado County is closed from Pollock Pines to Strawberry for about 20 miles due to multiple active mudslides. The first slides occurred Feb. 10 and were cleared but several other slides have occurred. Caltrans has five large excavators, four loaders, 25 semi-trucks, one paver and one grinder working to clear the roads. Crews are hoping to have U.S. Highway 50 open by Feb. 16.
  • Crews are working to restore State Route 37 between U.S. Highway 101 and Atherton Avenue in Marin County.
  • Northbound State Route 17 Sugarloaf Road in Santa Cruz County is closed due to a mudslide.
  • Westbound Interstate 80 is closed at the Nevada State line due to a landslide.

The recent storms have also affected rail and freight movement; below are a few of the major routes affected:

  • Union Pacific Fresno Sub South of Elk Grove is out of service due to derailment on February 10, 2017.
  • Union Pacific Sub above Oroville is out of service due to washouts, rockslides and flooding.
  • Heavier than usual freight traffic over the Martinez subdivision between Oakland and Sacramento is leading to significant delays to Amtrak trains.
  • The Coast Starlight is cancelled between Redding and Sacramento, however, trains are running from Redding to Seattle, and Sacramento to Los Angeles.

Caltrans anticipates additional closures with the new storm systems; motorists should check road conditions frequently. For the latest road condition information, the radio may be tuned to the Caltrans Highway Advisory Radio (HAR) at 530 AM, 1610 AM or 1670 AM or call the Caltrans Road Condition Hotline at 1-800-427-ROAD (7623). Real time conditions are also available online and for mobile phones at


U.S. Highway 50 in El Dorado County is closed from Pollock Pines to Strawberry for about 20 miles due to multiple active mudslides.  The first slides occurred Feb. 10.  Some locations were cleared, while others have developed.  Caltrans has five large excavators, four loaders 25 semi-trucks, one paver and one grinder working to clear the roads.  Crews are hoping to have US-50 open by Feb. 16. Photos courtesy of Caltrans and CHP 
State Route 1 at Cow Cliffs on February 12, 2017.  Photo courtesy of Caltrans.
Flooding on State Route 37 between U.S. Highway 101 and Atherton Avenue in Marin County. Photo courtesy of Caltrans.

For more winter operation photos visit:

California announces initial list of priority infrastructure projects ready for funding

Working with local cities, counties, and regions, California put forward an initial list of priority infrastructure projects today to the National Governor’s Association for consideration by the federal government. These key projects represent over $100 billion in targeted investments around the state. These investments will build and improve roads, levees, bridges, ports, and train and public transit systems. The total list also includes water storage and recycling projects, as well as energy, military, veterans and emergency operations facilities and services.

In the short-term, these projects will benefit businesses up and down the state and put thousands to work -many in communities with the highest rates of unemployment. Long-term, this investment will have lasting, expansive economic benefits by moving goods and people faster, protecting vulnerable communities from flooding, bolstering emergency response capabilities, saving and storing more water and improving energy reliability.

To prepare for the future – and complement federal investments – California is doing its part by working on legislation to ensure a permanent and sustainable funding stream is in place to further support road, highway and other critical infrastructure construction and improvements – part of a I0-year transportation investment plan.California is home to one out of every eight Americans and when we build in California, we build for America.

Find the list of projects here:

Transportation Agency Departments’ crews work around the clock during winter storm

From mudslides to fallen trees to white-out conditions, Caltrans crews and the California Highway Patrol were out in full force to get drivers back on the road safely during this intense winter storm.


Heavy rain and snow fell over the 7 day period, leading to overflowing rivers and harsh conditions in the Sierra. Gusting winds knocked down trees across the state, including the world-famous General Sherman sequoia. Throughout the storm, local CHP and Caltrans offices provided the public with the information in real-time while crews worked around the clock clearing the roads. These remarkable visuals show the hard work these agencies do to keep California’s roads safe and clear in the harshest of conditions.

I-80 Snow Removal


A herd of goats was stranded during the storm on a highway. Luckily, CHP was there to help herd them back to safety.


Roads closed on State Route 299


Crews working to relieve flooding on State Route 97 in Siskiyou County


The snowpack on Highway 50 over Echo Summit.

Clearing a mud slide on SR-29


Conditions changed dramatically in 12 hours on State Route 269 in Fresno County, crews cleaned up the road and the next morning flooding wiped it out.


An I-80 exit near Colfax was washed out in the storm.



Caltrans crews getting a fallen tree of Highway 1 in Big Sur.


The view of flooded State Route 269, north of Fresno.


A large scale slide in the Sierra on Highway 49


Another large mudslide blocking two lanes of State Route 1 near Leggett


Snow Removal on  I-80 at Donner Pass


A landslide on State Route 1 between Stinson Beach and Bolinas


A sinkhole developed on Highway 128 in Yolo County

Work continues to get storm-damaged roads back open again. Another storm system is forecast to begin Wednesday and continue through Monday. Stay updated on road closures by following CHP and Caltrans on Twitter.

For winter driving tips: And remember, you can check Caltrans QuickMap for a real-time, zoom-able California map of current traffic conditions including lane closures, CHP incidents, changeable message signs, chain controls, video cameras and more.

We thank our hard workers at Caltrans and CHP for their tireless efforts across the state.

CA High Speed Rail recognized by US Departments of Treasury and Transportation for Transformative Impact

Two recent reports from the federal government highlighted California High Speed Rail’s (HSR) economic impact. The US Department of Transportation recognized the impact that federal dollars have had on CA High Speed Rail in its final report on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The report, Shovel Worthy: What the Recovery Act Taught Us About Investing in Our Nation’s Infrastructure, showed how the Central Valley region is seeing the early benefits of the progress being made on the nation’s first high-speed rail system through job creation and business participation both large and small.

The Recovery Act provided funding for the preliminary engineering and environmental clearance for the corridor. It also provided funding for the final design and construction of the 119-mile-long Central Valley construction package that US Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx toured last year. This investment in the Central Valley has led to an economic turnaround in the region. The ARRA report focuses on the economic benefits that the City of Fresno has received from Recovery Act funds. Through strategic investments, including high-speed rail construction, Fresno’s unemployment rate went from 18 percent in 2011 to 9.3 percent in 2016.

The report also highlighted the work that HSRA is doing with Small and Disadvantaged Business participation in the construction of the project. Two small businesses were highlighted in the report, Outback Materials and Valverde Construction. Valverde Construction is a certified Hispanic Owned Small Business that is has a contract for utility relocation. Valverde expanded their business through the contract, opening an office in Fresno and hiring additional workers.

Outback Materials is a certified small business based in Fresno that provides concrete for construction in the region. Outback Materials invested $3 million to build a state-of-the art plant in Fresno and hired 25 new employees. Hear owner Curtis Lovett describe how Outback Materials has benefited and expanded as a result of work for high-speed rail:

The other report, commissioned by the US Department of the Treasury on behalf of the Build America Investment Initiative, identified 40 proposed transportation and water infrastructure projects of major economic significance that face challenges to their completion. The aim was to show the public the economic benefits of completing these projects.

According to the study, HSR ranked third in net economic benefit and cost ratio and would have projected net economic benefit of $130-260 billion. Project benefits included:

  • Travel time, reliability, travel cost and productivity benefits for users transferring from auto to HSR.
  • Travel time, reliability, safety and emission benefits for highway users traveling in less congested conditions due to mode shift from auto to HSR.
  • Passenger delay, operating cost and emission savings in the aviation sector due to mode shift from air to HSR.

With more than 119-miles of active construction in the Central Valley, construction of a high-speed rail line between the Silicon Valley and Central Valley is planned to be complete by 2024, with passenger service beginning in 2025. More on the project:

Caltrans Names New Strategic Management and Innovation Chief

blairCaltrans announced the appointment of Blair Thompson to be its first Chief of Innovation, Risk and Strategic Management. Thompson will oversee a newly created office, tasked with developing ways to streamline and improve department performance.  In addition, Thompson will manage and implement the 2015-2020 Strategic Management Plan, as well as additional innovation initiatives and risk management projects.

“Blair Thompson will be a valuable addition to the Caltrans executive team,” said Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty. “He will help Caltrans accomplish its strategic goals by using data and innovation to improve the Department’s performance.”

In the last of couple years, Caltrans has developed a comprehensive Strategic Management Plan and has become a leader in the Governor’s Lean-6 Sigma Program. Lean-6 Sigma is a methodology that streamlines processes by eliminating unnecessary steps.

Caltrans is committed to using comprehensive data to measure and improve its performance, as illustrated in its quarterly Mile Marker: A Caltrans Performance Report. Caltrans is expanding its comprehensive analysis on its performance, using cutting-edge technology.

Thompson comes to Caltrans from the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), where he worked since 1998. During his 18 years of state service, he worked in Project Management and helped create DMV’s Strategic Planning Program. As of 2008, he managed the teams responsible for strategic business and information technology planning, enterprise governance, performance management, strategic analysis, and organizational development, as well as DMV’s robust customer and employee survey programs. During his tenure, he also assisted in setting up DMV’s Risk Management Program, and since February 2016, he served as DMV’s Acting Enterprise Planning and Performance Branch Chief.

As Caltrans Director’s Office of Innovation, Risk and Strategic Management Chief, Thompson will also manage Caltrans efforts in the Federal Highway Administration’s State Transportation Innovation Council; ethics helpline and ethics policy development; risk management; Lean-6 Sigma process improvements and other special projects, such as Open Data and Intellectual Property.

CHP’s Mounted Patrol Unit takes to the Rose Parade

California Highway Patrol (CHP)’s Mounted Patrol unit joined 24 other equestrian teams at the 2017 Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena earlier this week.


This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Department’s Mounted Patrol Unit.  The CHP’s equestrian team is assigned to the Capitol Protection Section and consists of seven riders and six draft horses. Last week, the riders and their horses made the journey from Sacramento to Pasadena to be a part of the more than 100-year-old tradition, which included flower-covered floats, marching bands, and equestrian units from across the country. CHP’s equestrian unit was selected from hundreds of applicants.



The Rose Parade was not the first parade excursion for the unit, they’ve appeared in the San Francisco St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Hollywood Christmas Parade, Los Angeles Kingdom Day Parade, Lake Tahoe 4th of July celebration, University of California Equestrian Days, and both the Coarsegold and Red Bluff Round-Up Rodeos.

The CHP’s mounted patrol officers are responsible for the State Capitol and Capitol Park, as well as hundreds of state properties in downtown Sacramento.  The Mounted Patrol Unit is used for general patrol and other situations, and is always ready to deploy at a moment’s notice.