State departments of transportation in Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Ohio and Wisconsin earned regional recognition in the America’s Transportation Awards competition for eight projects that quickly restored safe access to a fire-damaged bridge, used drones to increase staff safety while also improving travel efficiency, and expanded a picturesque pedestrian and bike path to improve community connections, among others.
[In above photo: AASHTO Executive Director Jim Tymon (at right) announcing the award winners.]
Those state DOTs received their awards on September 1 during the annual meeting of the Mid America Association of Transportation Officials.
“As the COVID-19 pandemic forced many Americans to drastically change work patterns, state DOT employees continued the harrowing work of keeping our transportation systems operating safely and efficiently for those who had to travel, whether by vehicle or other means,” said Jim Tymon, executive director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, in a statement.
“The America’s Transportation Awards program highlights just a few of the projects and programs across the country that had a positive impact on our communities’ quality of life during an otherwise uncertain time,” he added.
Sponsored by AASHTO, AAA, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the competition serves as a way to recognize state DOTs and highlights the projects they deliver that make their communities a better place to live, work, and play.
Project nominations fall into one of three categories: Operations Excellence, Best Use of Technology & Innovation, and Quality of Life/Community Development.
“Quality of Life/Community Development” recognizes projects that provide significant benefits to the communities in which they are located, especially in the form of economic growth and the well-being of citizens. “Best Use of Technology” recognizes the use of new technology and creative solutions implemented by a state DOT. Finally, “Operations Excellence” recognizes projects that deliver a well-functioning, reliable, and safer transportation system through operational solutions.
All nominated projects will first compete on a regional level against projects of their own size: “Small” (projects costing up to $25 million), “Medium” (projects costing between $26 million and $200 million), and “Large” (projects costing more than $200 million).
In the Mid America region, nine states nominated 19 projects, with six state DOTs taking home the following eight America’s Transportation Awards:
- Indiana Department of Transportation — Grand Valley Boulevard Bridge (Quality of Life/Community Development, Small category—TIE)
- Kansas Department of Transportation — Kidron Loop Trail (Quality of Life/Community Development, Small category—TIE)
- Ohio Department of Transportation — Charles Berry Memorial Bascule Bridge Rehabilitation (Quality of Life/Community Development, Medium category)
- Kentucky Transportation Cabinet — Brent Spence Bridge Emergency Repair Project (Operations Excellence, Small category)
- Kansas Department of Transportation — Turner Diagonal Project (Operations Excellence, Medium category)
- Wisconsin Department of Transportation — I-94 North South Freeway Project (Operations Excellence, Large category)
- Ohio Department of Transportation — Increasing Safety and Efficiency with Ohio’s Unmanned Aerial Systems Center (Best Use of Technology & Innovation, Small category)
- Illinois Department of Transportation — Remaking I-255 in the Metro East (Best Use of Technology & Innovation, Medium category)
The three highest-scoring projects from each regional competition earn a place on a “Top 12” list of projects that will compete for the national Grand Prize – selected by an independent panel of industry judges – and the People’s Choice Award, chosen by the public through online voting. In addition, those top national winners each receive $10,000 cash awards to be donated to a charity or scholarship of the state DOT’s choosing.
AASHTO will announce the “Top 12 finalists” vying for the Grand Prize and People’s Choice awards later this month, with online voting for the People’s Choice award beginning at the same time.
The organization will then announce the winners of both Grand Prize and People’s Choice awards in October at the AASHTO Annual Meeting in San Diego.