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April 11, 2014

SACRAMENTO--In an effort to support the construction of more multimodal local streets and roads, Caltrans today endorsed National Association of City Transportation Officials’ (NACTO) guidelines that include innovations such as buffered bike lanes and improved pedestrian walkways.

“California’s transportation system must be multimodal and support bicycles and pedestrians as well as automobiles,” said Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty. “Caltrans’ endorsement of these innovative street design options is an important part of modernizing our approach to improving transportation for all Californians.”

Today’s announcement makes California the third state in the nation to endorse these new design guidelines. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) also supports this flexible approach to bike and pedestrian transportation design.

State Smart Transportation Initiative, which recently published an independent assessment of Caltrans, recommended endorsing these guidelines as part of an effort to modernize the department and increase the sustainability of California’s transportation system.

All streets within cities and towns may use the new guidelines. In addition to endorsing the new guidelines for local streets and roads, these guidelines can be referenced for city streets that are part of the state highway system. Caltrans is also evaluating the guidelines for future updates to the Highway Design Manual, the standard for building on the state’s highway system.

“My Great Streets Initiative is reimagining our streets to make our communities more livable, sustainable, and safe,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. “I look forward to working with Caltrans and Los Angeles city staff to immediately begin using the NACTO design guidelines as we pursue a multimodal vision for L.A.'s transportation system.”

“We will strengthen the dynamic, effective partnership with Caltrans to build safer, stronger transportation infrastructure,” said San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee. “By working together we can help establish the State as a leader for designing safe and people-oriented streets.”

The guidelines are based on successful innovations including separated bikeways and pedestrian refuge islands. Some of the new design features that cities could implement under these new guidelines include: 

Buffered or separated bike lanes, to separate cyclists from traffic.

Bike boxes, which allow cyclists to queue during congested traffic and improve left turns.

Flexibility in pedestrian access and sidewalk design, to enhance quality of life.

Caltrans’ endorsement of the NACTO guidelines is part of an ongoing effort to integrate a multimodal and flexible approach to transportation planning and design, to provide Californians with more transportation choices. In 2012, Caltrans updated its Highway Design Manual to facilitate the design of Complete Streets, which incorporates a multimodal approach to highway design. Caltrans also recently published Main Street, California – a Guide for Improving Community and Transportation Vitality.

A recently released Caltrans California Household Travel Survey revealed that, statewide, 23 percent of household trips are made via non-car transportation, more than double than 10 years ago. Caltrans and cities across the state are eager to support this trend.

“Business leaders prioritize active transportation as an important tactic for lowering our environmental impact and increasing people’s health, productivity and happiness,” said Carl Guardino, President and CEO of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group. “Designing safer roads will further help attract creative entrepreneurs to our cities and towns.”

Visit the NACTO website for more information on the Urban Street Design Guide, including photos and videos of new sidewalk and pedestrian facilities. The NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide also includes photos and videos of protected bikeways and other innovative transportation design features.

 “Caltrans is showing great leadership in working with cities and counties to embrace creative and more convenient transportation options for everyone,” said California State Transportation Agency Secretary Brian Kelly.


February 5, 2014

The California State Transportation Agency has released the California Transportation Infrastructure Priorities (CTIP) workgroup vision and interim recommendations document. Last year’s budget directed the new Transportation Agency to work with stakeholders to develop funding priorities and long-term funding options. The workgroup examined the current status of the state’s transportation system and discussed challenges that lie ahead. The interim recommendations offers both a vision for California’s transportation future and a set of immediate action items toward achieving that vision that are centered on the concepts of preservation, innovation, integration, reform and funding. A copy of the report is located here.


January 30, 2014

SACRAMENTO— The California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA) today released the external review of Caltrans it ordered last year—which has found that over the past decades the department has not kept pace with changes in transportation policy—and called for department reforms to modernize its mission, strengthen management and performance, and match investments and resources to the state’s policy goals.

 “We asked for an honest assessment because we are committed to modernizing Caltrans and improving transportation for all Californians,” said CalSTA Secretary Brian Kelly “This report describes significant challenges that built up for decades at Caltrans and we are committed to facing those challenges proactively and taking action to deliver a modern transportation system that Californians deserve.”

State Smart Transportation Initiative (SSTI) from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, which wrote the assessment, conducted more than 100 interviews with Caltrans staff, stakeholders, partners and agency representatives. In general, reviewers found a need for significant improvement in the areas of vision and mission, aligning resources and skills to realize that vision, implementing management systems to achieve success, and improving communication with stakeholders.

“Most of the recommendations are not simple check-the-box action items, but calls for hard work of collaborating, rethinking and establishing a new course,” said SSTI reviewers. “Fortunately other DOTs have worked through similar processes, and while their stories cannot simply be copied due to different policy surrounds and other issues, they can provide both information and inspiration as reform efforts proceed in California.”

The SSTI report explains how Caltrans led the nation during construction of the interstate system after World War II, but has not adapted to modern trends in transportation including local control, more efficient land use, and demands for more mobility choices.

“Climate change puts new demands on the state transportation system,” said Kelly. “More transportation choices, efficient land use, highway preservation, sustainable movement of people and freight—these now are the order of the day. Caltrans must modernize its mission and describe its vision to deliver on these demands.”

In response to this report, CalSTA will work with Caltrans, SSTI and stakeholders to draft a new strategic plan that is consistent with state law and policy and that delivers a transportation system capable of meeting safety, sustainability and mobility objectives.

SSTI drew on the experience of multiple transportation industry experts, including the former Secretaries of Transportation from Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and North Carolina. The SSTI report is available here: SSTI Caltrans Review

The California State Transportation Agency, which was launched July 1, 2013, is responsible for transportation-related departments within the state: Board of Pilot Commissioners, California Highway Patrol, California Transportation Commission, Department of Transportation, Department of Motor Vehicles, High-Speed Rail Authority, New Motor Vehicle Board and Office of Traffic Safety. The Agency was formed as part of Governor Brown’s Government Reorganization Plan, which became law in 2012. In June, the Agency announced $87 million in new federally-funded traffic safety grants administered by the Office of Traffic Safety. Last year, the Agency formed the California Freight Advisory Committee to help determine the state’s plans for freight-related transportation investments in California. The Agency also formed the California Transportation Infrastructure Priorities Workgroup, which will help set priorities for transportation spending and explore long-term funding options to deliver California’s infrastructure needs. For more information, visit

LA Times Op-ED: Taking California's Bullet Train to a Greener Future

January 29, 2014

Los Angeles Times Op-Ed: By Brian P. Kelly and Mary D. Nichols

California's high-speed rail is one of the largest public works projects anywhere in the world. Like the Golden Gate Bridge, Bay Area Rapid Transit, Interstate 5 and the California Aqueduct before it, high-speed rail has engendered opposition, consternation and litigation. Every bold, transformative vision faces that litany.

This year's state budget includes high-speed rail as an important part of California's landmark effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fight climate change. Although the Air Resources Board included high-speed rail in its 2008 greenhouse gas reduction plan, the project's economic benefits have been discussed in more detail than its environmental ones.

Today, California has 32 million registered vehicles, more cars and trucks that travel more miles — more than 330 billion — than any other state. Without high-speed rail, the existing transportation infrastructure cannot reasonably meet the demands of the projected 12 million new Californians coming to this state. The alternative to high-speed rail is an estimated investment of more than $150 billion to build 4,300 new lanes of highway, more freeways and hundreds of new airport gates and runways, covering large swaths of the state with concrete and asphalt. The effect on the environment — water and air quality, open space, food supply, noise and climate — would be substantial.

Although we should preserve our highway system to meet some of this demand, we also need opportunities for travelers to shift from petroleum-based fuels to biofuels, electric vehicles and public transit. This cannot happen unless we modernize and expand California's rail system — including high-speed rail and regional, urban and commuter rail.

Europe's experience with high-speed rail is illustrative. After high-speed rail launched in Europe, air trips were cut in half from Paris to London. In Spain, the impact was even more dramatic. For the 315-mile trip from Barcelona to Madrid, more than 60% of air travelers have switched to the 21/2-hour rail ride. Closer to home, Angelenos living near the Metro Expo Line tripled their public transit ridership and reduced daily driving 40% after light rail opened.

High-speed rail has the same potential to change the way people travel in California. By 2040, it could reduce car miles traveled in the state by 3.6 billion miles a year, the equivalent of taking 317,000 cars off the road daily. And by 2020, the project is estimated to eliminate between 278,000 and 674,000 net metric tons of greenhouse gases from voluntary emissions reductions, electrification of local rail and other efforts. High-speed rail will be constructed with net-zero emissions and operate 100% from renewable energy This statewide rail system would also give rise to transit and pedestrian-friendly development, which, in turn, preserves Central Valley farmland. The city of Fresno, for example, has approved a land-use plan that directs growth to infill and denser development in the city core, while barring expansion into prime farmland on the city's outskirts. A key element of this downtown development is the future high-speed rail station and its connection to transit.

California is on track to meet its 2020 emission reduction goals under AB 32, and we need investments in rail modernization to help achieve long-term reductions beyond that date. Reducing car travel, promoting infill and transit-oriented development, preserving farmland and open space, and avoiding massive highway and airport expansions are all part of the high-speed rail project and the vision for California transportation.

The project also serves as a catalyst for $50 million in the governor's current budget for improvements and upgrades to local rail transit systems in Los Angeles and San Francisco as part of the overall statewide system to improve mobility.

When it was finished in 1869, the transcontinental railroad cut the journey from the East Coast to California from months to days, uniting the West and creating a new spirit of optimism. Through our commitment to high-speed rail, we can repeat such a transformation and accomplish something that hasn't been done in more than 100 years of transit: Unite California with a sustainable, statewide transportation system.

Brian P. Kelly is California's secretary of transportation; Mary D. Nichols is chairman of the California Air Resources Board.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times. All rights and privileges retained. 


Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. recently signed SB 99 to create the Active Transportation Program which distributes funding for human-powered transportation projects and programs. Having new active transportation options--including new and safer trails and pedestrian routes--helps the entire state achieve greenhouse gas reduction goals while enhancing the public health and safety. This new transportation program is the nation's largest state commitment to bicycling, walking and other active transportation.

The new program replaces the current patchwork of small grant programs with a comprehensive program that improves program planning and flexibility and is more efficient than multiple programs. Another benefit is that funds can be directed to multi-year projects to make greater long-term improvements to active transportation.

Under the new legislation, the California Transportation Commission will develop guidelines and project selection criteria based on the goals of the program by convening a working group of stakeholders to develop guidelines. Forty percent of the funding will go toward metropolitan planning organizations in urban areas. Ten percent of the funds go to small urban and rural regions. The remaining funds will go to the California Transportation Commission for statewide projects.

For more information on SB 99 visit Each year, Caltrans also prepares an annual report summarizing programs it has undertaken for the development of non-motorized transportation facilities. For more information on these programs see the 2011-12 Caltrans Report.


The California State Transportation Agency is committed to implementing a consultation policy leading to meaningful dialogue with Tribes on a government-to-government basis.

CalSTA is seeking comments and feedback on its proposed Tribal Consultation Policy. The Policy was developed to comply with Governor Brown's Executive Order B-10-11 which directed state agencies to develop a plan to strengthen and sustain effective relationships between the state and Tribes.

This notice provides a way for interested parties to comment on proposed policy by December 20, 2013.

People may comment by electronic or postal mail before the comment due date. The notice content is, in effect, a draft. It does not represent the final policy.

Send comments to:

California State Transportation Agency
915 Capitol Mall Suite 350 B
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 323-5400
Fax: (916) 323-5440

Email: @

Get prepared during national preparedness month

September is National Preparedness Month, an opportunity for Americans to get better prepared for emergencies in their homes, business, and communities. The California Transportation Agency is urging motorist across California to take simple steps during National Preparedness Month to be better prepared for roadside emergencies. Motorists involved in a roadside emergency should always take extra safety precautions including: pulling to the shoulder to reduce danger, activating hazard lights, and calling for roadside assistance or dialing 9-1-1 in an emergency. If exiting the vehicle during a roadside emergency always stay as far away as possible from oncoming traffic.

Having a roadside emergency supply kit in every vehicle is another simple way for motorists to be more prepared for emergencies or when stranded in a vehicle until help arrives. Motorists can purchase roadside emergency kits at many retailers or create their own kit. The Office of Traffic Safety also has a useful list of supplies that motorists should keep in their vehicles to be more prepared for the next roadside emergency.

For further information on National Preparedness Month, including a list of public events, visit the Governor's Office of Emergency Services.

California Launches New State Transportation Agency

The new California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA) opened its doors today for the first time, carrying out the Governor's government reorganization plan, which included replacing the Business, Transportation and Housing Agency (BTH) with a new state agency focused solely on transportation.

"The size and complexity of the state's transportation system, combined with the important policy challenges now facing this state, demand cabinet-level attention and focus," said Secretary Brian Kelly while testifying before the Little Hoover Commission in 2012 about the purpose of the new agency. "The mission of the California State Transportation Agency is to develop and coordinate the policies and programs of the state's transportation entities to achieve the state's mobility, safety and air quality objectives from its transportation system," Kelly added.

As a result of these changes, CalSTA now consists of departments, boards and offices each with a focus on the safety and mobility of California's traveling public. The following transportation-related entities now fall under CalSTA:

The new California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA) office is now located at 915 Capitol Mall, Suite 350B, Sacramento, California 95814. For more information visit the Agency's new website at or follow on Twitter at @ca_trans_agency.


The most comprehensive overhaul of state government in decades became official following legislative approval of Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr.’s Reorganization Plan. The Governor’s plan, which will be implemented over the next year, cuts the number of state agencies from 12 to 10 and eliminates or consolidates dozens of departments and entities. 

Agency Convenes California transportation infrastructure priorities workgroup

Acting Secretary of the Business, Transportation and Housing Agency, Brian Kelly, has announced the formation of the California Transportation Infrastructure Priorities Workgroup (Workgroup), which will help set priorities for transportation spending and explore long-term funding options to deliver California’s infrastructure needs.

This year's budget directs the new Transportation Agency to work with stakeholders to develop transportation funding priorities and explore long-term funding options. The Business, Transportation and Housing Agency—which becomes the new Transportation Agency on July 1, 2013—convened this Workgroup to carry out that directive by refining the broader transportation infrastructure needs assessment developed by the California Transportation Commission.

The members of this Workgroup will work with the new Transportation Agency to identify critical transportation infrastructure needs in California and investigate funding options for meeting those needs. This effort will also be informed by the work of the California Freight Advisory Committee, a group announced yesterday, which is developing plans for freight-related transportation investments in California. The Workgroup will explore long-term, pay-as-you-go funding options and evaluate high-priority investments. The Workgroup will develop a set of recommendations for consideration later this year. 

The workgroup membership is located here

Business, Transportation and Housing Agency Announces California Freight Advisory Committee

Acting Secretary of the Business, Transportation and Housing Agency, Brian Kelly, today announced the membership of the California Freight Advisory Committee (Committee), which will help determine the state's plans for freight-related transportation investments in California.

The Business, Transportation and Housing Agency--which becomes the new Transportation Agency on July 1, 2013--formed the Committee in response to the federal Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), legislation that encourages each state to establish a State Freight Advisory Committee and develop a comprehensive State Freight Plan. The committee will advise Caltrans, which is in the process of updating the State Freight Plan.

A large part of California’s economy and millions of jobs depend on freight-related systems and industries. Competition for this economic sector exists at local, national and international level. Recognizing these facts, this statewide advisory body is taking action to guide California’s freight policies and priorities. 

The membership of the Committee is here

Acting Secretary Kelly Presentation to the Strategic Growth Council on November 7, 2012

Governor Brown Backs High Speed Rail

On July 18, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. signed into law Senate Bill 1029, which creates thousands of new jobs by modernizing California’s existing transit systems and linking them to the nation’s first high-speed rail system. SB 1029 invests $4.7 billion in state bonds funds that will be matched by an additional $7.9 billion in federal and local dollars for statewide improvements to transportation in California. The California High Speed Rail Authority is currently an independent entity, but next year it joins with Caltrans, the Department of Motor Vehicles, the California Highway Patrol, the California Transportation Commission, the Board of Pilot Commissioners and the Office of Traffic Safety in a new, stand-alone Transportation Agency.

HSR Bill Sign 1

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