Top 10 U.S. transportation projects compete for awards

Across the nation, state transportation departments are completing projects that make us safer, our drives shorter and less stressful, and our communities better and stronger. Now, the top transportation projects across the U.S. are going head to head in a competition that will determine which of those projects earns the title of best in the nation.

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), AAA, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are today announcing the top 10 finalists in the 2012 America’s Transportation Awards competition.

The 10 finalists received the highest number of overall points during four regional contests, representing each part of the country. A total of 49 projects from a record 34 states were judged in three categories: “Ahead of Schedule”, “Under Budget”, and “Best Use of Innovation.”

The 10 projects by state transportation departments are now competing for the America’s Transportation Awards’ Grand Prize, selected by a panel of judges, and the People’s Choice Award, which will be decided by popular vote of the general public. Online voting continues through Friday, Oct. 19.

“This year’s projects are marked by innovation and discipline,” said John Horsley, AASHTO executive director. “Whether it was deploying new technology or trying unique contracting methods, these projects show how states can deliver projects that make sense ahead of schedule and under budget.”

Top 10 finalists:

1. California—I-405/Sepulveda Pass Project-Mulholland Bridge Demolition (“Carmageddon”): This $5 million communication campaign by the California Department of Transportation helped drivers plan for and survive a shutdown a heavily-traveled portion of I-405 last summer near Los Angeles and worked so well it allowed the roadway to open a full 17 hours ahead of schedule.¿

2. Florida—A. Max Brewer Bridge Replacement Project: Florida Department of Transportation spent $44.8 million to replace the aging, structurally deficient A. Max Brewer Bridge while paying special attention to the environmental impacts and cutting down on congestion for drivers by installing a higher fixed span bridge instead of the swing bridge.¿

3. Iowa—Interstate 680 Reconstruction Project: Iowa Department of Transportation’s $19.2 million project between Florence, Neb., and Crescent, Iowa, reconstructed a stretch of I-680 in just 34 days, or a month ahead of schedule, after flooding of the Missouri River caused massive damage to the roadway.¿

4. Kentucky—U.S. 68 Double Crossover Diamond Interchange: Kentucky Transportation Cabinet tackled one of the most congested and crash-plagued interchanges in the state with this $6.2 million project. The innovative double crossover diamond design had never been used in the state and has thus far greatly improved traffic flow.¿

5. Louisiana—I-10 Twin Span Bridge Project: This $733 million project by the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development constructed a new bridge after Hurricane Katrina destroyed the old one, which was essential to the region. Estimated to cost $803 million, DOTD delivered the project, which is designed to have a 100-year lifespan and survive additional hurricanes, 9 percent under budget.¿

6. Maryland—Intercounty Connector: Maryland State Highway Administration’s $2.4 billion Intercounty Connector, a 19-mile long multi-modal highway connecting the I-270 and I-95 corridors north of Washington, D.C., earned the nickname of “America’s Greenest Highway” after allocating roughly $375 million to ensure the project was done with good environmental stewardship.¿

7. Massachusetts—93 Fast 14 Project: Massachusetts Department of Transportation spent $98 million to replace 14 severely deteriorated bridges in just 10 weekends along an eight-lane stretch of highway in Medford, saving 200,000 vehicles per day from unsafe bridges and massive delays due to construction.¿

8. Missouri—I-270 Dorsett-Page Project: Missouri Department of Transportation redesigned and reconstructed three roadway projects under one contract in St. Louis, all of which reduced congestion for drivers, more than a month ahead of schedule and about $2.4 million under the estimated $34.8 budget.¿

9. Nevada—Northbound US 395 Improvement Project: Nevada Department of Transportation widened a northbound 3.2 mile stretch of US 395 near I-80 in Reno to fix the congestion problem that plagued 150,000 commuters each day. The $31.5 million project was completed five months ahead of schedule.¿

10. Virginia—I-81 Pavement Recycling Project: This $9.75 million project by Virginia Department of Transportation used innovative pavement recycling methods to rehabilitate a 3.7 mile span of heavily-traveled interstate in order to save taxpayer dollars while reducing construction time by two-thirds.

Awards will be presented Nov. 18 at the AASHTO Annual Meeting in Pittsburgh. 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.