At the CalAPA Spring Conference in Ontario, CA, last week, Caltrans announced that the department's main road maintenance program is expected to be boosted by $300 million, a welcome bit of news for transportation advocates worried about dwindling highway funding.
Steve Takigawa, the Caltrans Deputy Director for Maintenance and Operations, made the announcement April 9 during his remarks to the conference attended by more than 200 industry professionals, agency personnel and academia from across California, several states and even two foreign countries.
The projected increase in the State Highway Operations & Protection Program, or SHOPP, for the 2016-17 fiscal year is due to a brighter fund estimate but the figure may revised in the months ahead as additional information becomes available.
Speaking on the heels of a January review of the department that found it was "out of step" and outlined a series of recommended reforms, Takigawa highlighted Caltrans' efforts to be more transparent and accountable to the public in putting transportation funds to good use.
He said the report by the Smart State Transportation Initiative at the University of Wisconsin, ordered by Transportation Secretary Brian Kelly, was intended to "evaluate Caltrans -- what are we doing and what can we do better."
Delivering transportation improvement projects in a timely manner and at a reasonable cost is essential to building goodwill with transportation system users and taxpayers, Takigawa said.
"None of what we do is possible without the credibility of Caltrans and the credibility of what you do," he told the gathering.
The news about additional SHOPP funds comes as transportation advocates, including CalAPA-supported Transportation California, warn about a looming "transportation fiscal cliff" that may place a serious dent in hard-fought improvements in pavement and ride quality noted in a recent Caltrans pavement report card. A brief video introduction to the transportation fiscal cliff, produced by the California Alliance for Jobs, can be found HERE.
Also speaking at the conference were Caltrans District 8 Director Basem Muallem and Dr. Heather Dylla, Director of Environmental Sustainability for the National Asphalt Pavement Association, who delved into the topic of measuring sustainability. Other presentations covered recycling of asphalt, roofing shingles into pavements, compaction, 'Superpave,' non-destructive testing, milling and grinding, pavement smoothness technology and pavement preservation strategies. An off-site lab tour sponsored by RMA companies also was held in conjunction with the event. All presentations delivered at the conference can be viewed and downloaded HERE.
The Equipment Expo portion of the two-day conference proved to be enormously popular, with attendees getting a hands-on preview of the latest in paving and testing equipment. For a list of all the event sponsors, click HERE. To view more photos from the event, click HERE to visit CalAPA's Facebook Page.
The Fall Asphalt Pavement Conference will take place Oct. 29-30 in Sacramento. For sponsorship and exhibitor opportunities, contact Sophie You of CalAPA at (916) 791-5044.
The Equipment Expo portion of the Spring Conference proved to be hugely popular.