Planning, Policy, & Funding

Courses that keep professional planners up-to-date on the latest trends, technologies, and best practices

Funding & Programming Transportation Projects in California

Funding state and local transportation projects in California is a complex process involving multiple inter-related federal, state, regional, and local planning and operating agencies as well as an alphabet soup of documents and funding programs.

Changing requirements and shifting political priorities can further complicate the process. Without a map and a strategy for developing fundable projects, public agencies and local governments risk losing funding opportunities.

This course explains how the process works on the ground and provides planners, project managers, and grant managers with guidelines for thinking strategically as they develop fiscal plans, programs, and project descriptions.

Additional course detail is provided in the sections below.

  • Course Topics
    • How the federal and state funding process works in California, including relevant rules and laws
    • Specific policy concerns in California
    • The institutional frameworks through which funding decisions are made and how to navigate them
    • The specific roles played by Caltrans, MPOs, and the CTC
    • How conditions governing different funding sources influence what gets funded and what does not
    • The programming process and its iterations in different programming documents
    • Steps to build an effective funding strategy
    • How to match project description with eligibility criteria for key fund sources
    • Current state and federal transportation funding issues, including federal and state legislation affecting funding, with specific overview of California Senate Bill 1 (SB-1), The Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017
  • Course Outline

    Introduction: Learning Objectives

    • Transportation funding, programming environment, key policy concerns
    • Think strategically when pursuing funding for transportation projects
    • Preview: How It All Comes Together
    • Transportation Planning Exercise

    Section 1: The Arena: Who Calls the Shots?

    • Transportation Funding Group Exercise

    Section 2: Federal Funding

    • Federal Transportation Funding & Decision Making
    • Policy Objectives of Federal Funding Programs 

    Section 3: State Funding

    • State Transportation Funding & Decision Making
    • Policy Objectives of Different Fudning Sources

    Section 4: Local Funding

    • Local Transporation Funding & Decision Making

    Section 5: Tolling & Financing Tools

    • Tolling & Financial Tools to Accelerate Project Delivery
    • TIFIA, State Infrastructure Banks, Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicleds, P3's, Private Activity Bonds
    • Reveiw of Sample Projects

    Section 6: Programming & Investment Decision-Making

    • What is Programming / Investment Decision-Making
    • Major Federal Requirements
    • Major State Programs
    • Others

    Section 7: Matching Dollars to Design and Construction Schedules

    • Programming Considerations & Strategies
    • Project Delivery
    • Review of Sample Projects

    Section 8: Current State & Federal Transportation Funding Issues

    • State & Federal Funding Outlook, Initiatives to Address Funding Gaps
    • How Project Sponsors Respond to Funding Needs
  • What you will learn

    This course focuses on the dynamics of transportation funding as well as knowledge to inform practical grantsmanship.

    Students develop a better understanding of how the process works in California, including who the players are, how to develop or match a project with a particular funding source(s), and what's on the horizon with regard to funding priorities. Participants will also gain insights into the underlying sources of complexity and uncertainty in transportation funding and finance.

    This is not a course on how to prepare a Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) or how to meet specific procedural requirements for a funding program.

  • Who should attend

    This course is for transportation planners and project managers in state and local agencies or governments, regional planning agencies, and transit operators.

    It will also benefit board members, managers, and others involved with developing fundable plans and projects and understanding where transportation funding comes from or how transportation investment choices get made.

  • Course Prerequisites

      [no prerequisites identified]

  • Course Instructors

      Norma Ortega, Chief Financial Officer, California Department of Transportation (retired)

      Norma Ortega served as the CFO for Caltrans for nine years managing a $12 billion annual budget prior to retiring in 2018 after 35 years of service. She held a number of increasingly responsible fiscal management positions including Acting Chief Deputy Director during 2013 and 2014, bringing a wealth of knowledge and expertise in transportation funding.

      During her career at Caltrans, Ms. Ortega led a number of fiscal strategies designed to keep funds flowing for transportation, including aggressive cash management of funds during very challenging fiscal times, allowing projects to continue through numerous years of stops and starts of funding; federal approval of almost $5 billion in federal toll credits; reduction of federal inactive obligations; and capturing over $1.5 billion of additional federal funds through the August Redistribution of funds. Ms. Ortega also served as lead on the California Road Charge Pilot Program, exploring an alternative to the traditional funding source for transportation.

      Ms. Ortega now works as a strategic advisor with Gray-Bowen-Scott, a professional consulting firm specializing in the delivery of transportation projects in the Greater Bay Area.

      Gian-Claudia Sciara, PhD, AICP, Professional Researcher, UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies

      Gian-Claudia Sciara is a researcher at the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California, Davis. Her portfolio addresses institutional questions in transportation planning, policy, and finance across national, state, regional and local levels, and her current work examines implementation of SB375 in California, which makes greenhouse gas reduction a central policy goal for regional transportation. Her publications address funding for advance environmental mitigation of infrastructure projects; Congressional earmarking's impacts on regional decision making; revenue generation for metropolitan infrastructure; and HOT-lane equity and planning.

      Dr. Sciara earned a Ph.D. in City & Regional Planning from the University of California, Berkeley, and is an active member of the Transportation Research Board and its Transportation Programming and Investment Decision-Making Committee.

      Andre Boutros, PE, Former Executive Director, California Transportation Commission

      Mr. Boutros retired from public service in December 2014 as Executive Director of the California Transportation Commission, concluding a career of over 30 years direct involvement in the development and preservation of California's transportation infrastructure with extensive focus on program and project delivery, transportation policy, and finance. He staffed the Commission since 2007 as both Chief Program Delivery Officer and Chief Deputy Director, leading to his appointment to Executive Director in January 2013.

      Prior to joining the Commission, Mr. Boutros spent over 23 years with the California Department of Transportation, holding numerous technical and leadership positions, with extensive involvement in bridge and highway engineering, and program and policy development and implementation.

      Maura Twomey, CPA, Executive Director, Association of Monterey Bay Area Governments

      Ms. Twomey is the Executive Director for the Association of Monterey Bay Area Governments (AMBAG), the federally designated Metropolitan Planning Organization for the Monterey Bay Region. She has 30 years of transportation experience, including 20 years in executive management. Prior to her appointment at AMBAG, Ms. Twomey served as Deputy Director for the California Transportation Commission, providing high level transportation policy and project management advice to the Commission and ensuring the timely and cost effective delivery of more than $3 billion in transportation projects annually.

      Ms. Twomey also served as the Chief of External Audits for Caltrans, managing a complex and comprehensive audit function. Ms. Twomey is a member of the California Freight Advisory Committee and the current Chair of the Rural Counties Task Force.

  • Registration Information

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      A confirmation email will be sent to you within two business days of TechTransfer receiving your paid registration.

      If you have any questions or need assistance, please contact the TechTransfer Registrar at (510) 643-4393 or

  • For more information

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      Cancellation Policy:

      The cancellation fee for this course is $75. At TechTransfer, there are no refunds for classes with registration fees of $75 or less. For all other classes, you may cancel your enrollment and receive a refund of your registration fee less $75, provided they receive your written request to cancel at least 5 full working days before the class is scheduled to begin. In lieu of canceling your registration, you may (1) transfer your registration to another TechTransfer class, (2) receive a tuition credit for the full amount, useable toward a future class, or (3) send a substitute in your place.

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LTAP Subsidized

This class is offered at a reduced fee to employees of California's city, county, regional, and tribal public agencies

Course Fee

Standard Rate:

Public Agency Rate:



Course Credit

This course grants:

1.60 CEUs

Upcoming Sessions (0)

[not currently scheduled]


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