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Caltrans boss jumps to Contra Costa agency

By dcuff
Friday, April 16th, 2010 at 6:27 pm in Uncategorized.

You might wonder why the head of Caltans  – one of the biggest highway agencies in the world – left his job to become chief of Contra Costa County’s congestion management agency. 

When he started his new post today, Randy Iwasaki took on a much smaller budget and work force to manage as the new executive director of the Contra Costa Transportation Authority.

The switch makes sense to Isawaki, who says he’s glad to work in a county where local voters have stepped up to approve local funding for transportation projects.

“Contra Costa voters have been very supportative of transportation,” the career engineer said. The Caldecott Tunnel fourth bore, he noted, is under way because Contra Costa voters in 2004 approved a sales tax extension that helped pay for that and other projects. 

For Iwawaki, another political reality is important. He was promoted to Caltrans director by a  lame-duck governor nearing his last months in office.

Much as he liked his seven months as Caltrans boss, Iwasaki said he recognizes that new governors often install their own picks to head Caltrans and other departments.

For some transportation junkies, Iwasaki is known as the Caltrans boss who remained on the scene at the Bay Bridge over Labor Day weekend as contractors toiled to make repairs on a cracked eyebar that extended a scheduled bridge closure.

Iwasaki slept on a cot in Yerba Buena Island just like other Caltrans workers during the long weekend


He confirmed a story that he even delivered coffee to some of the construction workers that weekend. It was no big deal, he said, because other people were doing the same thing to refresh and keep up the spirits of workers.

For the record, the transportation management agency says it will pay Iwasaki $195,000 a year, more than the $165,000 he made as Caltrans chief.

His take home pay at Caltrans likely ended up being smaller because of the furlough Fridays ordered by his boss, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

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