Caltrans director gives update on Bay Area projects

The Will Kempton goodwill tour rolled through the Bay Area in an effort to spread the newfound gospel of the state’s transportation department.

Kempton, Caltrans’ director, touted three new principles guiding the department under his captainship: a “new Caltrans” focused on being a better partner with communities and local agencies; greater emphasis on efficiency; and improved customer service.

More than 100 years old, Caltrans oversees the more than 45,000 miles of California’s major roadways, being held responsible for roadway improvements and safety measures to protect and improve commuters’ lives.

Kempton highlighted the Labor Day weekend closure of westbound I-80 when Caltrans crews demolished a 1,000-foot section of the road in 77 straight hours as an example of what the “new Caltrans” can do.

Applauding the wholescale effort to get the word out about the closure and provide alternatives, he said, “If you just take the time to let people know what’s going on, they can be patient.”

He said the construction of the Yerba Buena Transition Structure as part of the new East Span of the Bay Bridge would create the next significant traffic impact. Tony Anziano, Caltrans’ toll bridge program manager, said that impact would occur in two to three years when the existing structure is demolished.

The years 2011, 2012 and 2013 should be big years for commuters because those are the years the Devil’s Slide Tunnel, the westbound portion of the Bay Bridge’s new east span and the eastbound portion are expected to be finished.

The northern approach and twin bridges for the Devil’s Slide Tunnel are currently under construction and slated to be completed by the summer of 2008. The $230 million tunnel and its south approach should be under construction by early next year.

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