OCTA Prepares for Challenges and Opportunities

Let me first wish everyone a very happy new year.

With the new year, staff will begin developing the 2010-2011 fiscal year budget and unfortunately the revenue picture continues to be extremely challenging. Sales tax revenue and bus ridership continue to drop at double-digit rates, and we are getting signs from the state that transit funding we had hoped for will not be restored.

As part of the plan approved by the OCTA Board of Directors in November to soften the blow from reducing 300,000 revenue vehicle hours to 150,000 revenue vehicle hours, we assumed some state transit funding would be returned within two years. While we will continue to work at the state level to make this happen, that assumption is now problematic. We also agreed to implement $14 million in operational efficiencies as part of the upcoming budget.

My intention for this budget process is to first, preserve as much bus service as possible. Second, we need to maximize operational efficiencies. And third, I want to minimize impacts on our employees.

I will continue to work hard with the California Transit Association, members of the state and federal delegation as well as other key individuals and organizations to do whatever it takes to help to address these fiscal challenges.

These are unprecedented times that require difficult decisions, and I know this is not the kind of news you want to hear at the beginning of a new year. However, I'm confident with your help we can address and overcome these challenging issues.

— Will Kempton

Recognizing the strong partnership between OCTA and Asian businesses are Virginia Abadessa of OCTA, center, Lilly Nguyen of the office of Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez, Peter Sinambon of ABAOC, Carolina Coppolo of OCTA, ABAOC President Dwight Nakata, ABAOC Past President Linda Stone, OCTA CEO Will Kempton and Bekele Demissie of OCTA.

Asian Business Association Honors OCTA

The Asian Business Association of Orange County honored OCTA for its commitment, services, participation and support for the chamber at an awards ceremony Thursday.

The association is one of the minority chamber of commerce organizations in which OCTA is an active participant.

CEO Will Kempton joined Contracts Administration and Materials Management Director Virginia Abadessa, Contracts and Procurement Manager Carolina Coppolo and Business Relations Administrator Bekele Demissie to accept the award for OCTA's commitment and exemplary leadership to the business association.

"Our association's ability to grow and provide valuable and successful community programs would not be possible without the passion, dedication and support of OCTA," said Dwight Nakata, president of the association.

Lilly Nguyen from the office of Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez also presented a certificate to recognize OCTA's continued support of small businesses in Orange County.

OCTA provides workshops, vendor training and information on upcoming projects to the group.

Huntington Beach Councilmember Joins OCTA Board

Director Don Hansen

Director Don Hansen, OCTA's newest board member, was sworn in to his position Tuesday at OCTA headquarters.

Hansen serves Huntington Beach as a council member and has hosted forums throughout the city on issues ranging from traffic safety, local retail center improvements and the preservation of local youth sports fields.

Hansen and his wife, Sara, have three children Bailey, Ryan and Piper. The Hansens volunteer for the Huntington Beach Community Clinic Duck-a-Thon and other community-based groups.

Work Underway to Enhance Safety at Rail Crossings

The Batavia Street railroad crossing in Orange is currently under construction as part of OCTA's efforts to enhance driver and pedestrian safety in the county. It is one of more than 50 crossings under the railroad crossing safety enhancement project that began in August 2009.

Constructions crews, orange vests and traffic cones are signs of the safety improvements coming to Orange County's rail crossings.

OCTA began the Orange County railroad crossing safety enhancement project in August 2009.

Construction crews have been working at railroad crossings in Orange, constructing new medians in the road to deter motorists from driving around lowered gates trying to beat trains.

Crews also are preparing each crossing for new pedestrian gates and railroad gate arms that will notify pedestrians when it is safe to cross the tracks.

Construction hours are from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, with night work occurring between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. Thursday through Sunday.

OCTA's railroad crossing safety enhancement project will enhance safety features at crossings throughout Orange County. For more transportation updates, visit OCTA's YouTube channel.

Once the program is completed, participating cities along the entire rail corridor in Orange County will have the opportunity to implement a quiet zone in their communities. A quiet zone is an area along the tracks where trains do not routinely need to sound their horn.

Motorists and pedestrians can see the progress of construction work at the railroad crossings on La Veta Avenue, Palmyra Avenue, Almond Avenue, Chapman Avenue, Palm Avenue, Walnut Avenue, Lincoln Avenue, Meats Avenue, Batavia Street, Main Street and Eckhoff Street.

For up to date construction schedules and detour routes, visit www.octa.net/railroadcrossing.

Kempton Updates the North Orange County Legislative Alliance

CEO Will Kempton gave a presentation to the North Orange County Legislative Alliance, a group of chamber representatives from Fullerton, La Habra, Placentia and Yorba Linda Wednesday.

The presentation included information regarding extending the 91 Express Lanes, the Metrolink Service Expansion program and SB 375, which seeks to link housing, land use and transportation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Kempton also discussed the fiscal challenges OCTA has encountered and the action plans the authority is taking in the new year.

Crossing Counties to Share Project Information with Long Beach

Ross Lew, a West County Connectors project designer, explains the 7th Street bridge closure and detours to a Long Beach resident. Once completed, the project will seamlessly connect the carpool lanes of the San Diego Freeway (I-405), the Garden Grove Freeway (SR-22) and the San Gabriel River Freeway (I-605).

With construction on the West County Connectors project quickly approaching, OCTA outreach staff members shared information with Long Beach City Councilmember Patrick O'Donnell during his monthly community meeting Wednesday.

Staff members shared an overview of the project and addressed community concerns regarding closures and detours during construction.

Construction on the first segment of the West County Connectors project is expected to begin early this year. The project will link the carpool lanes on the San Diego Freeway (I-405), the Garden Grove freeway (SR-22) and the San Gabriel River Freeway (I-605) to create a seamless connection for the three freeways.

Will Kempton Visits Mission Viejo

CEO Will Kempton attended the Mission Viejo City Council meeting Monday to introduce himself to the elected officials and community members.

Kempton has visited 29 city councils since he became CEO in August.

High-Speed Rail Information Gains
Speed in Orange County Cities

OCTA hopes to gain feedback on the much-anticipated California high-speed rail project during community open houses throughout Orange County.

Wednesday, Jan. 20 - A series of community meetings for the high-speed rail project will be in the Orange County corridor cities in the upcoming months. The first meeting will be held at the City Council Chambers, 200 S. Anaheim Blvd., from 5 to 7 p.m.

The open house-style meeting will give community members a chance to comment on the various project alternatives and have their questions and concerns addressed. A formal presentation will begin at 5:30 p.m.

Contact Andrea West at 714-560-5611 or awest@octa.net.

OCTA to Host Southern California Transit Forum

Friday, Feb. 5 - OCTA, the office of Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez, Chapman University, Teamsters Local 952 and Mobility 21 will host the Southern California Transit Forum at Chapman University, 333 N Glassell St, Orange, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The forum is a gathering place for transit agency officials and transit-focused leaders. It offers opportunities to share views on meeting current transit funding challenges and the future of transit in Southern California.

Contact Peggy Wandelear at (714) 560-5939 or pwandelear@octa.net.

Dec. 31 - The Orange County Register ran an article about OCTA reducing tolls on the 91 Express Lanes beginning on Jan. 1, 2010.

On Jan. 1, OCTA reduced tolls on the 91 Express Lanes during two time periods. OCTA has lowered toll in 33 time slots since October 2008 based on traffic demand on the Express Lanes.

Jan. 4 - The Orange County Register wrote an article about the city of Tustin building a new parking structure to replace the old parking lot.

Jan. 5 - The Orange County Register wrote about the San Juan Capistrano City Council considering whether to build a public railroad crossing to replace a private crossing near the Rancho Capistrano property in northern San Juan Capistrano.

Jan. 6 - The Orange County Register ran an article about the San Juan Capistrano City Council approving a plan to build a public railroad crossing adjacent to the Rancho Mission Viejo property.

Jan. 6 - The Orange County Register included an article about the city of Orange beginning construction at the railroad crossing at Riverdale Avenue at Orange-Olive Road to enhance rail safety.

Jan. 6 - The Orange County Register wrote a story about the city of Laguna Niguel’s renovations and celebration, including Metrolink’s plan to offer an additional 12 trips between Laguna Niguel and Fullerton in late 2010.

Jan. 7 - The Orange County Register wrote an article about lanes and ramps on the Riverside Freeway (SR-91) closing at night this week in order for crews to safely work on eastbound lanes, widen five bridges, construct 10 new retaining walls and realign a connector between the 91 and 71 freeways.

Jan. 7 - The Orange County Register published an article about the Lake Forest City Council approving a design services agreement for $541,470 with RBF Consulting to connect the city’s portion of Alton Parkway from Commercentre Drive to Town Centre Drive.

For the latest media news, follow Joel Zlotnik, media relations manager, on Twitter.

Approved Travel Requests

Jan. 6 and Jan. 7 – Darrell Johnson, California High-Speed Rail board meeting, Sacramento

For the latest in transportation issues and programs in Southern California,
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