Ahead of schedule. Under budget. Best use of innovation.
Those are the three categories used for America's Transportation Awards, a joint effort by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, AAA, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Here at DOT, we appreciate those three qualities as good stewardship of taxpayer dollars, and 2012's winners--many of which were funded in part by our Federal Highway Administration--offer solid proof of that.
The People's Choice Award, determined by online voting, went to the Florida DOT's A. Max Brewer Bridge replacement, also a winner as the Best Use of Innovation in a Medium-Sized (between $25 million and $200 million) Project. The original swing bridge over the Indian River in Titusville was aging and structurally deficient. As a limited lane bridge that opened and closed for marine traffic, it was also inadequate to support the volume of commuters and tourists heading to area jobs and attractions. But the bridge also stretched across a sensitive environmental area that featured both protected sea grass and manatee winter migration paths.
With a fixed span high enough to accommodate vessels navigating the river and careful attention to environmental impacts of construction, the new bridge has eliminated a constant chokepoint and protected the sensitive marine environment below. As the judges said, "No stone was left unturned in making this bridge the best it can be for motorists, maritime traffic, bicyclists and pedestrians, as well as the animals and plants that live near it."
Caltrans used a thorough communication campaign to help drivers anticipate--and survive--the scheduled closure. News conferences, frequent media interviews, PSAs, an online countdown, and a nearly constant stream of social media updates all led to significantly reduced traffic, which made rerouting the remaining traffic much easier. Caltrans was able to reopen the freeway a full 17 hours ahead of the 53-hour schedule. As the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Janet Kavinoky said, "By embracing communications as a key strategy in transportation project management, Caltrans set the standard for public outreach."
The other winning projects shown below demonstrated a similar commitment to improved infrastructure and good stewardship:
- Iowa—Interstate 680 Reconstruction Project
- Kentucky—U.S. 68 Double Crossover Diamond Interchange
- Louisiana—I-10 Twin Span Bridge Project
- Maryland—Intercounty Connector
- Massachusetts—93 Fast 14 Project
- Missouri—I-270 Dorsett-Page Project
- Nevada—Northbound US 395 Improvement Project
- Virginia—I-81 Pavement Recycling Project
Each of these award winners show that our state DOTs are really raising the bar when it comes to serving all who use their roadways. As AASHTO executive director John Horseley noted, "Our state DOTs know just how important it is to save taxpayer dollars and minimize inconvenience to the public while delivering vital transportation projects that improve safety and eliminate congestion."
I congratulate everyone who worked on these projects for their terrific achievement.