The review of Caltrans ordered by Governor Brown and Transportation Secretary Brian Kelly finds the agency – which began as the Bureau of Highways in 1895 -- is very much in need of an overhaul. The independent review, released last week, notes that Caltrans’ orientation toward capital projects that move cars works against current state policies such as SB 375 that seek reductions in driving and greenhouse gas emissions, especially through low-transportation-demand compact land use patterns. “Use of automotive level of service standards . . . has been a barrier to the compact development sought by state policy and may have induced the opposite,” the report notes, adding that “Caltrans has not adapted to the multi-stakeholder environment required in the SB 375 era . . . or developed sufficient communication skills and procedures to . . . explain its own decisions well or take into account important material from communities and partners.”

California State Transportation Agency Secretary Brian Kelly has stressed that climate change and the state laws that address it are game-changers that the nation’s largest Department of Transportation cannot afford to keep on the back burner. The report's laundry list of recommendations for Caltrans include a new mission statement that would better reflect current state law and policy, stronger relationships with other state agencies, a rethinking of how to build facilities in metro areas and town centers, communications with local stakeholders that are “genuine and two-way,” and leadership in the area of sustainable transportation. Kelly has committed to “modernizing” Caltrans.

LINK to CalSTA report.

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