State departments of transportation across the nation are bettering their transportation systems and commuter quality of life through projects that cut congestion, provide greater mobility for citizens, and improve safety. Beginning Sept. 5, 10 of those top-notch transportation projects are vying to be named the best of the best.
The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), AAA, and
the U.S. Chamber of Commerce announced the top 10 finalists in the 2013 America’s Transportation Awards competition.
This year, 24 states entered a total of 36 projects into the competition in the categories of “Ahead of Schedule,” “Under Budget,” and “Best Use of Innovation.” The 10 finalists received the highest number of overall points during four regional contests, representing each part of the country.
“The 10 projects competing for top honors have made incredible impacts on their communities,” said Bud Wright, AASHTO executive director. “The America’s Transportation Awards competition was created to highlight all that our state transportation departments do each day to deliver quality, impactful transportation projects ahead of schedule, under their projected budgets, and through exceptional innovation. We are very proud of these state DOTs and their outstanding projects.”
The grand prize will be awarded by a panel of judges. The People’s Choice Award will be decided by popular vote of the general public. The winners of both the Grand Prize and the People’s Choice Award will be awarded with $10,000 each, which must be donated by those state DOTs to a charity or scholarship of their choice.
Online voting begins Sept. 4, and will continue through Oct. 2, Individuals are welcome to vote up to 10 times per day for their favorite projects. The two awards will be presented Oct. 20 at the AASHTO Annual Meeting in Denver.
Top 10 finalists:
1. California — Dumbarton Toll Bridge Seismic Retrofit Project: California Department of Transportation greatly improved safety through an earthquake-prone region by conducting a seismic retrofit on the Dumbarton Toll Bridge, utilized by more than 60,000 vehicles per day. The $62.3 million project completed with a savings of $30 million to taxpayers.
2. Georgia — I-285 and Ashford Dunwoody Diverging Diamond Interchange Project: Georgia Department of Transportation was able to cut down on commuting time for motorists and improve safety through the construction of a diverging diamond interchange in an area that experienced high collision and fatality rates. The $6 million project was completed a full month ahead of schedule.
3. Idaho — U.S. 95, Sand Creek Byway Project: Idaho Department of Transportation’s $112 million project increased pedestrian traffic and kept large trucks out of downtown Sandpoint by constructing a 2.1-mile byway. The project included not just the new roadway but bike and pedestrian paths, six bridges, and a retaining wall, all completed four months ahead of schedule.
4. Indiana — I-465/Allisonville Road Interchange Reconstruction Project: Indiana Department of Transportation reduced delays for drivers near Indianapolis by reconstructing the I-465/Allisonville Road interchange, a $19 million project completed two months ahead of schedule.
5. Massachusetts — MBTA Mobile Ticketing Project: Massachusetts Department of Transportation offered transit customers an easy and convenient way to purchase tickets for their rides with a new smartphone application. The project saved the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority nearly $70 million versus an extension of its subway smartcard solution.
6. Minnesota — Highway 169/I-494 Interchange Reconstruction Project: Minnesota Department of Transportation cut down on congestion to keep the economy growing in the Minneapolis/St. Paul region by reconstructing the Highway 169/I-494 interchange. The $128 million project came in significantly under budget and improved safety for all drivers.
7. Missouri — Safe and Sound Bridge Replacement Program: Safety was greatly improved statewide for drivers through the Missouri Department of Transportation’s Safe and Sound Bridge Replacement Program, which improved more than 800 bridges across the state. The $685 million project was completed 14 months ahead of schedule, which cut down on detour time for drivers.
8. North Carolina — Triangle Expressway Project: North Carolina Department of Transportation’s $1 billion all-electronic tolling technology on the Triangle Expressway marked the first time the method had been used in the state, saving drivers from sitting in congestion at toll plazas. Within six weeks of opening the customer service center, transponder sales surpassed six month sales targets.
9. Rhode Island — Wickford Junction Station & Garage Project: Rhode Island Department of Transportation increased mobility for citizens of Kingstown with the creation of a $24.9 million multi-modal transportation hub, including a new siding track, a parking garage, drop-off/pick-up area for cars and buses, bike parking, and car charging stations. The project was completed under budget.
10. Utah — I-15 Corridor Expansion Project: This $1.725 billion project by Utah Department of Transportation to relieve congestion for those traveling to and from Salt Lake City used innovative scheduling and planning techniques to complete the highway expansion project two years ahead of schedule while saving taxpayers $260 million.