Matt, I'm glad to hear your family made it thru the wreck in good shape. Be careful out there.
Sometimes it seems the driver is attracted to you in your bright vest and colorful equipment. You can see the look in their eyes as they lock in on you instead of the road and oncoming traffic. Scary is the correct word.
It's been a couple of years since I last got a Caltrans permit, but I think I paid $160 last time. The bigger problem is negotiating and then implementing the traffic control plan.
But the last time I needed to get in the ROW I just jumped the fence. It was on a rural stretch of freeway, the monument I needed was about 10' inside the fence, the nearest travel lane was another 100' our so, and the fence was just a four-footer. Waiting for a permit or for a Caltrans crew to transfer the point would have entailed a level of cost that simply wasn't justified by conditions; the principle of "it's easier to get forgiveness than permission" won out.
Sorry to hear about the accident Matt and glad everyone is ok.
My last experience with Caltrans was in a city that wanted to install a left turn pocket in the existing raised median to access a shopping center. The engineer wanted about a thousand feet of the median in length and the width of the median and each lane next to it wide. I suggested the city obtain the encroachment permit and provide the traffic control. The day of the survey (many, many months later) we arrived on site and the city had cones, arrow board vehicles and flashing lights for a half mile in each direction. Just as we were finishing up the Caltrans inspector showed up and asked to see our permit. I didn't have it. I said one of the city guys must have it. He said we would have to pick up until he saw the permit. That would have taken two hours to pick up and another two to reset everything! As it turned out the city guys left it at city hall and had to go get it. That was just enough stalling for us to finish.
And the whole job had to be done in metric dimensioning.