The California Department of Transportation had it easy back in the day. Then their biggest concerns revolved around things like expanding highways, filling potholes to please angry citizens, and building newer, more direct freeways. Ahh, to be back in those simpler times.

Nowadays, everything transportation related is much more complex. And the complicated nature of future transportation cannot be overstated. To provide an illustration of how complex, Reza Navai, a Caltrans transportation planner noted that state officials had recently hosted a demonstration of a drone air taxi that will require creating a “highway above the ground.” Navai added, “If you think transportation on the ground is complex…”

This kind of movie-like, sci-fi transit is what’s in store for California as it sets out to implement its master-plan of electrifying transportation in order to dramatically trim greenhouse gas emissions. Getting to zero, or achieving zero-emission vehicles, requires a plan that transcends the five million cars that state hopes will be on the roads by 2030. It even goes beyond this plan of having flying taxis – if you can believe that.

The truth is the state is aiming to have an electric replacement for everything. No joke – everything! Boats, planes, trains, delivery vans, farm tractors, and forklifts will all have an electric version. Still, of all these things the world of freight poses one of the biggest challenges.

What the Future Looks Like

Going forward the state’s transportation expert’s picture technology that will ping driverless vehicles with an automated message when they veer from their lanes. They also imagine “smart” roads that charge electric vehicles as they pass and an entirely electrified Interstate 5. Already the state has stretched out its painted lanes by six inches so self-driving vehicles can better ‘see’ the road.

Transportation officials are already taking a hard look at the year 2050. Still, in order to accomplish a carbon-free transportation future in the state, lots more progress will have to be made in a shorter period.

What do you guys think? Is California on the right path? Is this money well spent?