Another active Bike Month pedals to a close

CalSTA celebrated another successful bike month with the adoption of the first statewide bicycle and pedestrian plan, Toward an Active California. The plan lays out lays out policies and actions to support active modes of transportation in order to achieve Caltrans’ ambitious goals to double walking and triple bicycling trips by 2020, and reduce bicycle and pedestrian fatalities by ten percent each year.

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The Bike and Ped Plan made its debut at the Capitol Bike Fest

Released just weeks after the Road Repair and Accountability Act provided an additional $1 billion for Active Transportation Project grants, the plan aims to fulfill the six goals outlined in the California Transportation Plan 2040, and introduces 15 strategies and 60 actions that are specific to active transportation. At the core of the plan are four objectives: safety, mobility, preservation, and social equity. bike ped plan For more details about the plan, please visit www.cabikepedplan.org.

In addition to the plan, Caltrans districts across the state participated in local Bike to Work week activities and discussed active transportation planning in their region.

Caltrans District 4 was out in Oakland to talk about bicycle-focused infrastructure.
Caltrans District 6 participated in National Bike to Work Day
CHP and Caltrans District 11 staff participated in a Bike to Work ride in Old Town San Diego
Caltrans District 12 staff participated in a Bike to Work ride in Santa Ana

Chipper even got in on the fun during Bike to Work Week!

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Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty also went on his annual Director’s bike ride where staff from the state, county, and cities toured bike infrastructure in the Sacramento region and discussed more bicycle-focused transportation planning.

The Director also participated in a multimodal field trip with Streetsblog CA to talk about the new bike and pedestrian plan, taking the Capitol Corridor from Sacramento to Emeryville and then riding across the Bay Bridge. For more on their adventure: http://cal.streetsblog.org/2017/05/26/a-multimodal-field-trip-in-honor-of-cas-new-bike-and-pedestrian-plan/

California continues to advance its goals for a more active transportation landscape across the state.

DMV continues to increase access to self-service terminals outside of DMV offices

This month, DMV unveiled 10 new self-service terminals in retail locations across Southern California, including one on UC Irvine’s campus. These terminals allow customers to instantly renew their vehicle registration without stepping foot into a DMV field office and are located in Albertsons and Vons grocery stores.

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“We are always looking for options to provide our customers with alternative and convenient ways to conduct their DMV business,” said DMV Director Jean Shiomoto.
“By placing DMV Now Self-Service Terminals in retail locations, we provide customers with another time-saving option.”

The popular self-service terminal is designed for customers who need their vehicle registration card and license plate tag immediately.  To conduct a transaction, customers will need their vehicle registration renewal notice or their most recent vehicle registration card.  The touch screen machine offers instructions in English and Spanish and accepts credit card and checks.

The kiosk can also be used by customers who have decided to park their vehicle and want to file for planned non-operation status.

The first external location Self-Service Terminal was installed at the University of California, Irvine on April 10.  Two additional terminals were installed in Albertsons locations in Lancaster and Palmdale last month.

DMV Now Self-Service Terminals are also available during regular business hours at 60 DMV field offices. To find a terminal near you: https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/dmv/detail/fo/fo_sst.

Online services are also available 24/7 at www.dmv.ca.gov.

Caltrans plans for a more sustainable transportation future

Last month, Caltrans awarded $9.2 million in sustainable transportation planning grants to programs across the state.

These grants include plans and studies for complete streets, connectivity, multimodal transportation, transit hubs and station areas, corridors, active transportation and community engagement outreach throughout the state.

“Sustainability is important at every stage of a project, from planning to construction. These grants help Caltrans achieve its mission of providing a safe, sustainable, integrated and efficient transportation system and ensure all Californians have more livable and economically vibrant communities,” said Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty.

Approximately $1.5 million was awarded for Strategic Partnership grants which encourage regional agencies to partner with Caltrans to identify and address statewide/interregional transportation deficiencies in the state highway system; strengthen government-to-government relationships; and ultimately result in programmed system improvements.

Grant recipients include cities, counties, transit agencies, tribal governments and metropolitan and regional transportation agencies throughout the state.

One of these grantees is the Murphy State Route 4 Complete Streets Corridor Plan in Calaveras County which would provide safe multi-modal travel options for residents and visitors. Another project is the Central Core Connectivity and Active Transportation Plan in the City of Brea which will gives residents and visitors more opportunities for walking, bicycling, and transit use.

These grants are for planning only. Planning is a crucial first step in creating projects that could ultimately lead to sustainable transportation improvements. For these grants, Caltrans received 132 applications totaling about $30 million in requests.

For a complete list of grant recipients, visit Caltrans Sustainable Transportation Planning Grant Program page.

In addition to these grants, Caltrans partnered with the Institute of Transportation Studies at UC Berkeley to host the 2017 California Transportation Planning Conference on May 2-5. The conference featured speakers from the Federal Highway Administration, Federal Transit Administration, CalSTA, Caltrans, and regional and local stakeholders.

17_12521D-001The conference kicked off with a welcome session with Janette Sadik-Khan, former Commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation from 2007–2013 under Mayor Michael Bloomberg. In her keynote, she shared success stories in redesigning streets around people.

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Other topics discussed at the conference included exploring new transportation funding sources, transportation investments and economic development, transportation equity, rural transportation sustainability, adapting transportation to a changing climate, and demographic shifts shaping new mobility demands.

Participants were also able to tour a new county connection electric shuttle in Walnut Creek and also visit the Port of Oakland.

The Conference allowed participants, and the state, to exchange ideas and learn about emerging technologies, policy developments, and advancements in planning from experts at every level. Caltrans continues to prioritize a vision for a more sustainable transportation future.

Caltrans Memorial Honors 187 Fallen Highway Workers

Caltrans commemorated the passing of three more of its employees Thursday during its 27th Annual Workers Memorial at the State Capitol. There have been a total of 187 Caltrans employees who lost their lives on the job since 1921. Dignitaries, Caltrans employees, and family and friends paid special tribute to Jorge Lopez, Randy Whisenhunt and Annette Brooks, who all lost their lives since last year’s memorial.

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“We honor and recognize the tremendous loss that their loved ones and friends have suffered,” said Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty. “The greatest honor we can give is to keep their memories alive to help prevent future tragedies.”

“Each day that work goes on, Caltrans workers risk the known hazards of repairing our roads with traffic operating just feet away,” said California State Transportation Agency Secretary Brian Kelly. “I want to thank the men and women of Caltrans for your efforts keeping Californians safe, and keeping our state moving.”

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According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, highway construction and maintenance work is one of the most dangerous occupations in the United States. In 2013, there were 5,887 work zone collisions on California roadways resulting in 51 fatalities and 2,757 injuries, compared to 6,525 work zone collisions resulting in 43 fatalities and 3,243 injuries in 2014. Nationally drivers and passengers account for 85 percent of the people who are killed in highway work zones. These numbers don’t include the close calls highway workers experience every day.

Work zones are dynamic places that can change from minute to minute. The presence of large trucks, changing traffic patterns and reduced speed limits creates an environment where being alert can be the difference between life and death.

Motorists can dramatically improve safety in work zones by slowing down and reducing distractions like texting and talking on the phone, and complying with the Move Over law, which requires motorists to move over if it is safe to do so, or slow down when approaching vehicles displaying flashing amber warning lights.

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Caltrans has partnered with the California Transportation Foundation to develop funds to benefit the families of Caltrans workers killed on the job. The Fallen Workers Assistance and Memorial Fund helps with the initial needs a surviving family faces, and the children of fallen workers may apply for a Caltrans Fallen Workers Memorial Scholarship. For more information or to make donations, visit www.transportationfoundation.org.

As we honor the 187 Caltrans workers killed on the job since 1921. We also thank the 19,000 Caltrans workers who help make our streets and highways safer, each and every day. In the coming years, we will see a lot of activity on our highways. Work zone safety is in our hands; stay alert and help protect our workers so they can come home to their loved ones and families. For more information on Caltrans’ fallen workers: http://www.dot.ca.gov/paffairs/workersmemorial/

 

New California Charger Clean Diesel-Electric Locomotives Debut

Last week, the State unveiled the its newest locomotives built by Siemens in California, for California. The Siemens Charger Clean Diesel-Electric Locomotives were built in in the Sacramento region and will be hitting the tracks in the coming days.

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These new locomotives are the first passenger locomotives to receive Tier IV emissions certification from the Federal Rail Administration utilizing green technology to meet the federal standards. These new locomotives will be able to reach speeds of 125 mph and are over 70% more emission-friendly than the locomotives they will replace.

“This is a great California story. We’re going to be moving people throughout the state of California in a much cleaner way and that’s an important part of all of our transportation investments,” said California State Transportation Agency Secretary Brian Kelly. “I couldn’t be more proud to say that this locomotive is both built and delivered here in California.”

The Charger locomotives will initially be used on two Northern California Amtrak routes: the Capitol Corridor and the San Joaquin. As more get delivered, they will also be utilized on the Pacific Surfliner route. The new locomotives also utilize state-of-the-art crash energy management features and are equipped with positive train control technology to further enhance safety.

“These Chargers will help provide California’s passenger rail services with a fleet of locomotives that meet very stringent emission standards,” said Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty. “Not only will they make for a more sustainable transportation system, but are also expected to improve reliability and help efforts to double current statewide ridership of 5.4 million passengers by 2040.”

The first set, six in all for Northern California, are part of a larger, multi-state procurement. Siemens is building the Charger locomotives out of its nearly 1,000-person rail manufacturing hub in Sacramento, California for transportation agencies in California (Caltrans), Illinois (IDOT), Washington (WSDOT) and Maryland (MTA). Additional states served by the procurement are Oregon, Wisconsin, Missouri, Michigan and Iowa.

According to Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority (CCJPA) Managing Director, David Kutrosky, “These diesel-electric locomotives will result in a better overall experience for our passengers. They are cleaner and quieter, and offer a smoother ride. We’re excited to debut these Sacramento-built Tier 4 engines on the Capitol Corridor.”

Soon, riders on the Capitol Corridor line can jump on a train powered by one of these cleaner locomotives and enjoy the ride. For more information about the Capitol Corridor: http://www.capitolcorridor.org/

Capitol Journal: Opponents of Gov. Brown’s transportation plan say road money has been misused in the past — they’re wrong

The following is an column written by the Los Angeles Times columnist George Skelton on April 6. To view the original post click here. 

The chief argument against raising taxes on motorists to pay for road repairs is that Sacramento Democrats can’t be trusted.

They have a rotten history, Republicans contend, of stealing the drivers’ tax money and spending it on nontransportation goodies.

And that argument is basically bunkum.

It’s a convenient excuse to vote against unpopular tax hikes. It plays well with the public’s perpetual-but-rising mistrust of government. And more than that, it feeds the natural desire of people to make someone else pay for things they want.

Gov. Jerry Brown is trying to patch up roads — and correct past mistakes — before term limits oust him after next year.

Brown admits he didn’t pay enough attention to road construction his first time as governor from 1975 to 1983. In fact, many blame Brown for starting the erosion of our once-superb highway system.

“I didn’t realize how much our roads and infrastructure … cost,” Brown said in a rare gubernatorial appearance before a legislative committee Monday. “Since that time there has been a continued deterioration.”

Brown also noted the irony of it all: “When I was governor [the first time], it was the Republicans who were beating down my door for a gas tax. That time, they wanted to do 5 cents. I said, ‘No, we’ll let you have 2.’ So the shoe is on the other foot now.”

The last time the Legislature raised the gas tax was when a Republican governor, George Deukmejian, pushed for it. That was in 1989. Now there apparently is no Republican in the Capitol who will even think about voting for Brown’s proposed tax hike.

The tax boost roughly a quarter-century ago wasn’t adjustable for inflation, so now it buys about half as much concrete. Also, motorists are pumping fewer gallons because today’s vehicles are more fuel-efficient. Consequently, the state has a huge backlog of needed repairs and not enough money.

“I have a chart here,” Brown told the Assembly Transportation Committee, pointing to it.

“The red line, $8 billion going to $9.2 billion — that is the [annual] needs. Here’s what we’re spending, down here at $2.5 billion. That’s a gap. What I’m telling you is whether you’re a Republican or Democrat, or a man or a woman, that gap is real … a huge gap that is getting bigger. It’s a very simple proposition. Pay now or pay later — and pay a hell of a lot more.”

Brown and Democratic legislative leaders are proposing to raise motorists’ taxes by $5.2 billion annually.

They want to increase the gas tax by 12 cents per gallon and diesel by 20 cents. They’d hike the diesel sales tax by 4 percentage points. There’d be a new annual fee on vehicles based on their worth, ranging from $25 to $175. And electric cars that don’t burn gas would be assessed $100 annually.

Here’s how all that would be spent: 65% on fixing state and local roads, 20% for transit, a portion for improving truck access around ports and some for bicycle and pedestrian lanes.

Also, there’d be a constitutional amendment to prevent any of that new money from being spent on anything but transportation.

Democrats wanted to get it passed by Thursday before everyone takes off on spring break. Friday is also Brown’s birthday — maybe coincidentally, maybe not. But the tax legislation needs a two-thirds vote in both houses, and passage wasn’t looking very promising late Wednesday. Even some Democrats were holding out, looking for backroom deals.

This is a typical Republican response from Sen. Scott Wilk of Antelope Valley, who represents many long-commuters who buy gas by the barrel:

“Californians already pay the highest taxes in the nation toward our roads, but Democrats in the Legislature have redirected, repurposed and redistributed our money to pork-barrel projects and gubernatorial pipe dreams like high-speed rail, rather than taking action on failing roads.”

OK, one at a time.

California’s combined gas tax and fees ranks eighth in the nation, not first, according to the Federation of Tax Administrators.

No transportation money has been redistributed to high-speed rail. (But, yes, it is a pipe dream.)

As for redirecting the money to “pork-barrel projects,” that’s the real bunkum.

A brief history:

Highway funding had always been financed strictly by user fees — taxes at the pump, truck weight fees, registrations — until 2000. The state was rolling in money so Gov. Gray Davis decided to spend $2 billion from the general fund on one-time transportation projects.

Whoops! The general fund started running short. So two years later, the general fund “borrowed” back $1.2 billion from Caltrans, which got the money as a gift in the first place. The state still owes $706 million. Under Brown’s legislation, it would be paid back in three years.

Then there are the truck weight fees. Lobbied by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, voters in 2006 voted to borrow nearly $20 billion for transportation infrastructure. Those bonds were to be paid off by — big mistake — the general fund, which feeds off income, sales and business taxes.

But when the recession hit and the general fund was bleeding tens of billions in red ink, Democrats grabbed $1 billion annually in weight fees and used the money to repay the transportation bonds. But it was still being spent on transportation.

“We all have our politics, but at some point you have to look truth in the eye,” Brown told committee members.

That’s probably asking way too much these days: To look truth in the eye.