After more than two decades with the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), Randell Iwasaki has proved to be an innovator in environmental engineering, recognizing the relationship between transportation and climate change.
Recognizing that today's transportation system is more than just steel and concrete, Iwasaki is leading California's effort to modernize this critical infrastructure by integrating intelligent transportation systems (ITS) technologies that help reduce traffic congestion, cut emissions and energy use, and improve safety and efficiency.
Under Iwasaki's leadership, California adopted a range of cost-effective transportation solutions that include traffic signal optimization; active traffic management and incident response systems; electronic weigh-in-motion capabilities; open road tolling; smart transit systems; highway ramp metering; and advanced traveler information.
At Caltrans, Iwasaki led several environmental engineering innovations: recycling old tires into rubberized asphalt; the installation of LED traffic lights that cut power costs by $2 million annually; and converting Caltrans' equipment fleet to run on clean-burning fuels.
Iwasaki manages the daily operations at Caltrans, including an operating budget of nearly $10 billion and more than 21,000 employees. A licensed civil engineer, Iwasaki managed the $8.6 billion Toll Bridge Seismic Retrofit Program in 2005 and served as Caltrans' interim director in 2004.
Jim McKay is the editor of Emergency Management magazine. He lives in Orangevale, Calif., with his daughter, Ellie, and son, Ronan. He relaxes by fly fishing on the Truckee River for big, wild trout.