The judges turned to an innovative highway expansion project and the public voted for a statewide bridge repair program. Now the votes are in and the states of Utah and Missouri have earned the top honors in a year-long campaign to recognize America's top transportation projects.
The Utah Department of Transportation earned the America's Transportation Awards Grand Prize, determined by a panel of judges, for its I-15 Corridor Expansion (I-15 CORE) project, which used innovative scheduling and planning techniques to complete the $1.725 billion project two years ahead of schedule while saving taxpayers about $260 million.
The Missouri Department of Transportation was awarded the People's Choice Award after it garnered more than 330,000 online votes for its Safe and Sound Bridge Improvement Program that rehabilitated and replaced more than 800 bridges to improve safety more than a year ahead of schedule.
The awards were announced Sunday during the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials annual meeting in Denver. AASHTO, AAA, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce sponsor the America's Transportation Awards competition, which recognizes outstanding transportation projects in three categories: Ahead of Schedule, Under Budget, and Best Use of Innovation.
"AASHTO and its co-sponsors are pleased to honor these top two projects for all their efforts to make citizens safer and their lives easier every day," said AASHTO Executive Director Bud Wright. "This competition recognizes all the hard work state transportation departments do every day to deliver projects that are ahead of schedule, under budget, and that utilize incredible innovations, all of which save taxpayer dollars, decrease construction time, and make our communities better places to live. Our two winners exemplify all these fantastic qualities and we are proud to name them this year's winners."
"Delivering quality projects ahead of schedule means drivers benefit from the safety and mobility gains sooner and spend less time dealing with construction impacts," said Jill Ingrassia, managing director, AAA Government Relations and Traffic Safety Advocacy. "AAA congratulates the Utah and Missouri departments of transportation for their outstanding work."
"There are excellent examples of improvements that deliver high value by using innovative strategies and meeting the challenges of coming in ahead of schedule and under budget," said U.S. Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, Transportation & Infrastructure Janet Kavinoky. "America's Transportation Award winners should give us all confidence in the public agencies that maintain, modernize, and expand the nation's transportation systems."
AASHTO presented $10,000 cash prizes to both of the winning transportation departments. The money will be used to support the charity or transportation-related scholarship program of their choice.
UDOT's I-15 CORE expansion project in Utah County relieves congestion for motorists traveling to and from Salt Lake City and Provo. UDOT used accelerated bridge construction, diverging diamond interchanges, and wireless paving and grading to reduce the impact on the 130,000 drivers that use the highway each day. UDOT also kept the public informed during the construction through weekly TV and radio segments, social media, and a website, which led to a better understanding of the project (and any impacts on the traveling public) and ultimately a faster and less expensive project.
MoDOT's $685 million Safe and Sound Bridge Improvement Program completed work on 800 bridge projects across the state more than a year ahead of schedule, greatly improving safety for those who utilize those bridges each day. MoDOT began the program in 2008 with a goal of improving those 802 bridges, 250 of which were identified as rehabilitation projects while the others were completed through a design-build contract. The program was estimated to run through the end of 2013, but MoDOT completed its final bridge 14 months ahead of schedule, improving safety for users much sooner than expected while cutting down on detour and delay time at those repair sites.
A total of 36 projects from 24 states were entered in this year's America's Transportation Awards competition. Click here for more information about all the projects.