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James Roberts started working for Division of Highways in 1951 as a part-time student assistant. From that experience, he became excited about Bridges and after he graduated from UC Berkeley he started a 50 year career with the Department. Roberts held engineering, management and administrative positions including Chief Bridge Engineer for the State of California, Chief Deputy Director at Caltrans, Director of the Caltrans Engineering Service Center and Project Director for the Sacramento Light Rail Project. As the state’s Chief Bridge Engineer, Roberts directed the reconstruction of structures that were damaged by the 1989 Loma Prieta and 1994 Northridge earthquakes. Under his direction Caltrans became a world leader in seismic research. Roberts was named to the National Academy of Engineering in 1996; the only Caltrans engineer to have such an honor. He was also a Korean War veteran and spent 31 years in the Army reserves. His retirement party was held on October 17, 2001, twelve years to the day of the Loma Prieta Earthquake.
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