Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
California Department of Transportation
Caltrans (full name: California Department of Transportation) is a government agency in the U.S. state of California. Its mission is to maintain, repair, and improve highways and bridges throughout the state. Caltrans is also involved with the improvement of public transportation systems in California.
For administrative purposes, Caltrans has divided the state of California into districts supervised by district offices. Most districts cover multiple counties; Orange County is the only county with its own dedicated district office. The most important districts are District 4 (San Francisco Bay Area) and District 7 (Los Angeles and Ventura counties).
Caltrans has a reputation for being both innovative and stubbornly idiosyncratic. In 1950, it developed the typeface family now used nationwide on road signs (though not its 2004 replacement, Clearview). It pioneered Botts dots as a superior form of lane marking. It has frequently been criticized for proposing and often constructing ugly bridges and has several times been forced to redesign such structures in response to public outcry. It has long experimented with freeway-to-freeway stack interchanges of increasing height and complexity. It was the last state highway department in the United States to number its freeway exits (the Cal-NExUS program), and one of the last to switch from dark green "button copy" signs to bright green reflective signs. In the 1990s, Caltrans aggressively added carpool lanes on freeways to reduce traffic congestion.
Although state highways generally adhere to consistent minimum design standards throughout much of the state, there are some policy and construction differences between the northern and southern district offices. Northern California carpool lanes are always directly adjacent to mainline traffic lanes and are restricted to carpools only during rush hour, while Southern California carpool lanes are always separated from mainline lanes (except at designated entrance/exit areas) and are restricted at all times.
Over the last several decades Caltrans has supervised extensive seismic retrofitting of structures throughout California, in addition to creating far more stringent design criteria for new constrution.
Caltrans was originally the Division of Highways of the Department of Public Works. It was reorganized into a separate department in 1973.
- US Department of Transportation
- List of roads and highways
- List of California-related topics
- San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge (for the eastern span replacement controversy)
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