This Roadshow Still Has Lots of Work Ahead

Can a state agency hang up a “Gone Fishing” sign?

If so, Caltrans should consider it.

Three months ago, the agency conceded that it routed a truck under a bridge too short in Anaheim. The driver lost his load, killing a man in a car trailing him on the freeway. That led to state Senate hearings, and the eventual disclosure that the agency has low-bridged 33 trucks in the last 3 1/2 years.

Then, 10 days ago, a temporary bridge near Lompoc collapsed just seconds after a truck passed over it. The agency was forced to concede it had routed several other oversized trucks over the bridge, not realizing that the bridge had weight restrictions on it.


And last week, a 35-ton crane being used to repair the bridge fell through a temporary road and collapsed, slightly injuring its operator.

The agency’s new Web site: www.lookoutbelow.

Caltrans needs to send out an internal memo--if only to rally the troops. Something along the lines of . . .

Dear Trusted Employee,



That’s about all we can say after last week’s embarrassing crane situation. Can you believe that? A 70,000-pound crane falling over. Must have been quite a sight. Don’t ever let anyone tell you you don’t work in an exciting industry where anything can happen.

But in response to some of your queries, I must tell you that was not a planned event. No one was more surprised than we (except for the crane operator!) when that temporary road gave way. Back to the drawing board on that one.

We realize many of you may be asking, “Hey, does anyone know what’s going on around here?”

The answer is yes. And as soon as we find out who that is, we’re putting them in charge!

Ha. Just kidding. Sometimes it’s best not to take yourselves too seriously.

Clear Misunderstandings

I think you all know that none of us at the agency is opposed to some high jinks. We don’t want to lose that here at Caltrans, where we pride ourselves on being the funniest agency in state government.


Those of you who’ve sat in while we planned freeway closures and last-second lane mergers know what I’m talking about. Those meetings gave us some of our biggest laughs and helped kill the drudgery of what can be dull “engineering” work.

That said, though, we simply have to stop routing truckers into concrete bridge overpasses. We haven’t figured out if these are math problems or concentration problems (your suggestions welcome), but whatever they are, we’ve got to stop making them. And a couple of the higher-ups have suggested that we return to our former practice of writing the routing permits on official documents instead of napkins.

Let’s see if we can’t do that.

A couple quick in-house updates.

First, apologies to those of you who missed the recent company picnic. By now, you’ve probably figured out that we posted some bad directions on the bulletin board and that’s why instead of joining us at San Onofre State Beach, you ended up at an abandoned campsite in Cleveland National Forest.

Our mistake, but reports suggest you all did

some serious bonding out there in the wilderness. Congrats on making a success out of it.

Under Reconstruction


That brings us to a final order of business. Those of you who know Clyde Spencer and his team over in maintenance will be happy to know that all 12 of them are resting comfortably at their homes after the unfortunate accident at last week’s Employee of the Month luncheon.

During the ceremonies recognizing Clyde and his people, the makeshift stage we built for them collapsed, and they all fell six feet to the ground. Confusion reigned for a few minutes as they landed on top of one another, but no one was seriously hurt and a few onlookers even got a good chuckle from it.

Our followup study indicates no one had tested the platform with actual people standing on it. An oversight, no doubt. And we’ll never use balsa again, either.

That’s it from headquarters. Thanks for your hard work and remember:

Be careful out there!


Dana Parsons’ column appears Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. Readers may reach Parsons by calling (714) 966-7821 or by writing to him at the Times Orange County Edition, 1375 Sunflower Ave., Costa Mesa, CA 92626, or by e-mail to