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Caltrans Asks for Innovative Thinking

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

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The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is looking for a few good ideas.

As part of a series of innovation contests created by the California legislature, Caltrans is offering up to $25,000 for a winning idea related to ways to improve the state’s transportation system.

Rules of the Road

In the Caltrans “$25K Find a New Way” contest, Californians are invited to submit their one-of-a-kind ideas for actions that could improve any aspect of the transportation system. The person whose suggestion is deemed to have the highest chance for success when implemented will collect up to $25,000 in prize money.


Caltrans is offering up to $25,000 for a winning idea to improve the state’s transportation system in a contest open through Oct. 13.

“Californians have contributed some of the best transportation solutions in the country, and we look forward to putting a great idea into action,” Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty said in a statement announcing the contest Aug. 25.

Ideas will be judged in three areas:

  • Innovation—How unique is the idea? Will it stimulate major change in a way that improves operations, safety or costs or the state itself?
  • Potential Benefits—Does the idea meet a current Caltrans goal, replace or improve a current practice, or solve an existing issue?
  • Implementation—Is the idea practical, economically feasible and able to be put into actual use?

Contest participants must be California residents. Current and retired state employees and their immediate families are not eligible to take part.

Applications are due by Oct. 13 at 5:00 p.m. PDT. Winners will be announced by Dec. 31.

You can keep an eye on the public’s stream of ideas on Twitter via the hashtag #25KFindANewWay.

A Change for the Better

The innovation program came into being in September 2014 through Assembly Bill No. 2138, which was passed by Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr.

The program provides an incentive for California residents to call to attention areas they feel are in need of improvement and offer their suggestions for improvement.

“The people of California are resourceful and inventive,” said Assemblyman Mike Gatto. “Incentives like this can showcase Californians’ creative solutions to some of the state’s most pressing issues.”

If you’re looking for inspiration, the Caltrans contest website shares some innovative ideas of the past that have led to a positive change along the roadways.

A few of these include:

Balsi beam—the mobile work zone protection system was inspired by Caltrans employee Mark Balsi, who was injured in a CA work zone in 2001. A tractor-trailer converts into a 30-foot-long workspace to provide a protective buffer for those who are working close to traffic.

Three-setting traffic signal—the addition of a yellow light was patented in 1923 by an entrepreneur who noticed the stop-and-go settings for the manually operated traffic lights were insufficient to handle the variety of traffic in his day.

Rumble strips—this safety feature on our roadways is an inexpensive way to alert distracted or drowsy drivers that their vehicles are moving off the roadway.

About Caltrans

Caltrans manages more than 50,000 road and highway lane miles, funds three intercity rail lines, maintains more than 12,500 state bridges, and inspects more than 400 public-use and special-use airports and heliports.

Under the Active Transportation Program (ATP), Caltrans partners with local communities to develop and maintain safe, healthy and convenient daily travel options.

It is broadening its scope of projects to benefit active transportation users including pedestrians, bicyclists and mass transit riders. The mission of Caltrans is to provide a safe, sustainable, integrated and efficient transportation system to enhance California’s economy and livability.


Tagged categories: Contests; Infrastructure; North America; Program/Project Management; Roads/Highways

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