Throughout most of its history, the California Department of Transportation, or Caltrans, has been a freeway-centric agency: Agency activities focused predominantly on building and managing freeways. In 2011, Caltrans leadership sought to change this situation and established a new focus, seeking collaboration and coordination with other agencies to maximize scarce resources and, ultimately, to improve system-wide performance.
To help achieve its new multi-modal, multi-agency collaborative vision, Caltrans developed the Connected Corridors program in early 2012. The purpose of this program is to look at all opportunities to move people and goods within transportation corridors in the most efficient and safest manner possible, to ensure the greatest potential gains in operational performance across all relevant transportation systems. This includes seeking ways to improve how freeways, arterials, transit, and parking systems work together. Travel demand management strategies and agency collaboration are also actively considered. The program is a collaborative effort to research, develop, test, and deploy a new framework for corridor management in California. It aims to change the way state and local transportation agencies, as well as any additional entity having a stake in the operation of transportation system elements, manage transportation challenges for years to come.
A pivotal reorganization
As the leader of the Connected Corridors program, Caltrans has demonstrated its commitment to ICM by adopting a reorganization plan to better support corridor management in the state. The plan establishes Corridor Managers to serve as experts for individual corridors, responsible for overseeing corridor operations, coordinating with partner agencies, and improving collaborative, multi-agency planning. This corridor-focused reorganization effort by a state Department of Transportation—the first of its kind in the nation—recognizes both the importance of a systems approach to transportation management and the foundational need for inter-agency collaboration to successfully carry out ICM initiatives like Connected Corridors.