ARTBA Foundation Salutes Transportation Project Excellence in Community Engagement and Media Relations

WASHINGTON - Transportation design and construction firms and public agencies from across the country were recognized for "excellence in community relations and public education" during the American Road & Transportation Builders Association Transportation Development Foundation (ARTBA-TDF) 2011 PRIDE Awards ceremony, held May 24 in the Nation's Capital during the association's Federal Issues Program.

Established in 1999, the PRIDE Awards honor outstanding programs that enhance the image of the transportation design and construction industry. An independent panel of public relations professionals and journalists reviewed nominations and selected the winners. Awards were presented in these categories:

Community Relations: Honors programs which demonstrate positive involvement with the community in which a public agency, firm or association is located. Public-Media Relations/Education: Recognizes activities that educate the public and opinion leaders about the significant contributions the industry makes to the economy and/or quality of life.

Community Relations: Private Sector

First Place: Tilcon New York, Inc.

"Tilcon's Community Relations Program"

Tilcon New York, Inc., a division of Oldcastle Materials, Inc., has made community relations a key part of its corporate culture. The firm and its employees donated over 550 pounds of food to a northern New Jersey pantry, worked with the boy scouts and held an annual book drive. Tilcon also regularly holds open houses and conducts plant tours to educate the public, media and other stakeholders about the construction materials business.

Second Place: CH2M HILL

"Seat Belts Save Lives Campaign"

A CH2M HILL study found that teen drivers cause one-fifth of all crashes. To address this trend, the firm launched the "Seat Belts Save Lives Campaign" targeting high school students in the Denver area. Team members distributed a "seat belt pledge" to 3,000 teenagers, government employees and firm employees through more than 60 venues. They also distributed 650 five dollar gift cards to students found wearing their seat belts during unannounced checks, and produced a toolkit and handbook so that program could be replicated by other groups.

Third Place: Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission, Ammann & Whitney Pennsylvania, Inc., Portfolio Associates, Inc.

"Riegelsville Toll-Supported Bridge Rehabilitation Project"

Rehabilitating a century-old designed bridge with heavy traffic volume was a successful demonstration of positive public engagement for the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission.

Working with project partners Ammann & Whitney Pennsylvania, Inc., and Portfolio Associates, Inc., the team launched a public meeting and engagement process by hosting meetings, including one with nearly 125 participants. Members of the community provided their input on design elements and construction patterns, and were kept informed of the project's progress through direct mail, telephone hotline, variable message signs, online communications and regular face-to-face meetings.

Honorable mention in this category was also awarded to O.C. Jones & Sons, Inc., "TLC for Kids Sports" campaign, which included a partnership with a local radio station to renovate a sports park in Antioch, Calif., that serves disabled athletes.

Community Relations: Public Sector

First Place: Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and NorthGate Constructors

"DFW Connector Public Information Team"

The $1 billion, 8.4-mile design-build Dallas-Fort Worth Connector doubles the size of the current highway around the airport's north portal. Working with TxDOT, NorthGate Constructors, a joint venture of San Antonio-based Zachry Construction Corporation and Fort Worth-headquartered Kiewit Texas Construction, L.P., executed a collaborative outreach program to keep airport users and the community informed about the project's progress. It included more than 100 public presentations, monthly meetings with the business community through the local chamber of commerce, regular briefings by airport officials and airline staff, and open houses attended by more than 600 people.

Second Place: Idaho Transportation Department (IDOT), Connecting Idaho Partners, RBCI/The Langdon Group

"I-84 East Community Relations Program"

ITD and Connecting Idaho Partners, a joint venture of URS Corporation, CH2M HILL, RBCI, Inc., and The Langdon Group, employed an innovative program that earned community support during construction of the I-84 East Corridor, a route near Boise's Air Terminal serving some 75,000 users each day. It included an interactive website with a section that encouraged public inquiries and feedback, news releases, brochures and newsletters, and kiosk at the city's airport. The team also engaged neighborhood associations to get their ideas about the installation of sound walls near their homes.

Third Place (Tie): New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) and Gannett Fleming, Inc.

"New Jersey Route 18 Reconstruction" Route 18 in New Brunswick is one of the state's most congested with some 85,000 daily users. NJDOT and partner Gannett Fleming, Inc., created a "Community Partnering Team (CPT)" to build consensus on the long-planned, $215 million project's design and construction elements. The team hosted public meetings, held news conferences, created a website with web cams, blasted regular email communications and used a List Serve. The CPT eventually grew to include 200 stakeholders—all working with a shared goal. The end result: improved traffic flow along a two-mile corridor, and a project that was completed on time, on budget and with broad public support.

Third Place (Tie): Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) and FIGG

"4th Street Bridge," Pueblo

A focus on community involvement and complex site constraints led to development of a unique, new signature bridge for Pueblo, Colo. CDOT and FIGG worked together to develop and implement a public involvement plan to harness stakeholders' vision and ensure a context-sensitive solution. Team members hosted multiple design and construction workshops, developed a website, issued news releases, and later incorporated pier medallions, monuments and pedestrian treatments reflective of the community's art. The bridge was selected one of the "top 10" by "Roads & Bridges" magazine, and has been locally embraced as a new landmark structure and centerpiece for Pueblo.

Public-Media Relations/Education: Public Sector

First Place: Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and CH2M HILL

"Elgin O'Hare-West Bypass Project"

A team from IDOT, Federal Highway Administration and CH2M HILL coordinated an effective public relations campaign to secure stakeholder approval of a new multi-modal area transportation plan for the Elgin O'Hare-West Bypass Project in suburban Chicago. Located adjacent to the airport, the area is also home to 27 separate communities and two counties encompassing some 125 square miles—a project area full of planning, community and engineering challenges. Nevertheless, the team generated positive involvement by attracting groups ranging from 400-1,000 residents to attend 130 project review meetings and public forums. They also helped generate 38,000 letters of public support, demonstrating that building consensus one block at a time can be effective even in diverse and developed metropolitan areas.

Second Place: Florida's Turnpike Enterprise, PB Americas, KPMG LLP and URS Corporation

"Homestead Extension of Florida Turnpike All-Electronic Tolling Communications and Marketing Program"

In February 2011, the southern 47 miles of Florida's Turnpike became an all-electronic, no-cash toll road. Known as the "Homestead Extension," this segment is located in heavily populated Miami-Dade County and serves as key commuter and tourist route. Project team members PB Americas, KMPG LLP, and URS Corporation implemented a successful multi-lingual education campaign to inform users about impending changes and available payment options. Among the key elements: holding workshops and public hearings using webinar technology, distributing one million toll plaza fliers, placing billboards and toll booth banners, and providing informational materials to state and local tourism visitors bureaus.

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