At the January 21, 2021 BPAC meeting, Ryan Russo, OakDOT Director, and Ariel Espiritu-Santo, OakDOT Agency Administrative Manager, provided an overview of the current organization including updates to department leadership, the vacancy rate, and 2020 accomplishments. Additionally, Mr. Russo and Ms. Espiritu Santo provided an update on the Fiscal Year 21-23 budget process that is underway. The summary of discussion is below.
OakDOT Organization Chart
Summary of Discussion
- Measures B and BB give OakDOT some flexibility in negotiating the budget challenge in that these funds can be allocated for either operations or maintenance. Measure KK is also helpful in that bond funds are not affected by the economic downturn in the way that sales tax revenues are affected.
- OakDOT was able to use Measure KK funds to re-create and build up an in-house paving team.
- While the economic downturn creates a bleak situation for local governments, the possibility of infrastructure funding from the Federal government and/or the State of California are potential bright spots on the horizon.
- $54 million in COVID response funding is coming from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission for transportation safety projects.
- The evaluation of projects has been challenging due to staffing limitations, and many jurisdictions struggle with evaluating and communicating the benefits of their projects. BPAC is advocating for more evaluation to improve public understanding of the department’s work.
- OakDOT continues to build itself as an inclusive organization with staff who are representative of Oakland.
- Oakland’s bicycle and pedestrian community has numerous community-based organizations that can be partners to OakDOT’s projects, both to help deliver the projects and to help sustain and grow these organizations during a time of economic hardship for all and that create many benefits for Oakland.
- In its budget requests, OakDOT has been seeking to build the capacity of the Traffic Maintenance Section to increase the department’s in-house ability to deliver striping and painting for safety improvements that can be rapidly deployed.
- The Reimagining Public Safety Task Force will be making recommendations in the coming months, and these recommendations may have ramifications for traffic safety.
- The February 2 meeting of the City Council’s Finance and Management Committee provides an opportunity for the public to begin commenting on the budget process, as the Committee begins public discussion on how to close the funding gap in the current fiscal year, FY2020-21.
- The BPAC could consider providing input or comments to the Alameda County Transportation Commission (ACTC), as this entity plays an important role in distributing transportation funding throughout Alameda County.