California Department of Transportation
(Caltrans) is a government department in the U.S. state of California.
Its mission is to improve mobility across
the state. It manages the state highway system
includes the California Freeway and
) and is actively involved with public transportation
throughout the state. The department is part of the state cabinet
Business, Transportation and Housing Agency
. It has its
headquarters in Sacramento.
The earliest predecessor of Caltrans was the Bureau of Highways,
which was created by the California Legislature
into law by Governor James Budd
This agency consisted of three commissioners who were charged with
analyzing the state road system and making recommendations. After
the commissioners submitted their report to the Governor on
November 25, 1896, the Legislature replaced the Bureau with the
Department of Highways.
Due to the state's weak fiscal condition and corrupt politics,
little progress was made until 1907, when the Legislature replaced
the Department of Highways with the Department of Engineering,
within which there was a Division of Highways. The voters approved
a $18 million bond issue for the construction of a state highway
system in 1910 and the first Highway Commission
convened in 1911. On August 7, 1912, the Department broke
ground on its first construction project, the section of El Camino Real between South San
Francisco and Burlingame (now part of California State Route 82).
1912 also saw the founding of the Transportation Laboratory and the
creation of seven administrative divisions (the predecessors of the
12 district offices that exist today).
In 1913, the Legislature started requiring vehicle registration and
allocated the resulting funds to support regular highway
maintenance, which began the next year.
In 1921, the Legislature turned the Department of Engineering into
the Department of Public Works.
The history of Caltrans and its predecessor agencies during the
20th century was marked by many firsts. It was one of the
first agencies in the U.S. to implement the painting of centerlines
on highways statewide (thanks to June
McCarroll); the first to build a freeway west of the
Mississippi (the Pasadena Freeway);
the first to build a four-level stack interchange; the first to develop and deploy nonreflective
raised pavement markers, better known as Botts
dots; and one of the first to implement dedicated
freeway-to-freeway connector ramps for high-occupancy vehicle
In late 1972, the Legislature approved a reorganization (suggested
by a study initiated by Governor Ronald
), in which the Department of Public Works was merged
with the Department of Aeronautics to become the modern Department
Caltrans headquarters in
For administrative purposes, Caltrans has divided the state of
California into 12 districts supervised by district offices.
districts cover multiple counties; District 12 (Orange
County) is the only district with one county.
largest districts by population are District 4 (San Francisco
Bay Area) and District 7 (Los Angeles and Ventura counties). Like most state agencies, Caltrans
maintains its headquarters in Sacramento, which is covered by District 3.
important projects include Interstate 105, the
reconstruction of the SR 91/SR 60/I-215
interchange, the San Francisco – Oakland Bay
Bridge (East Span), and the Devil's
Slide tunnel scheduled to be completed in