Transportation construction organizations from Maine to New Mexico were recognized at the American Road & Transportation Builders Association Transportation Development Foundation’s (ARTBA-TDF) sixth annual “PRIDE Awards” luncheon, held April 26 during the association’s “Federal Issues Program” in Washington, D.C.
Established by the ARTBA Board of Directors in October 1999, the PRIDE Awards honor “excellence in community relations and public education that enhance the image of the U.S. transportation construction industry.”
This year’s awards competition was sponsored by Better Roads and Roads and Bridges magazines. An independent panel of public relations professionals and construction industry journalists selected the winners.
State transportation departments and private sector firms were recognized in the following categories:
Public-Media Relations/Education: This category recognizes programs and activities that educate the public and opinion leaders about the significant contributions the transportation construction industry (or a specific sector of it) makes to the economy and/or quality of life.
Community Relations: This category recognizes programs and activities that demonstrate positive civic involvement with the community in which a public agency, firm or association is located.
State Department of Transportation
First place (tie): North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT), Raleigh, “Work Zone Safety Poster & Calendar Contest”
NCDOT partnered with ARTBA contractor affiliate, Carolinas Associated General Contractors, to promote the “Work Zone Safety Program” throughout the state’s schools. Hundreds of students, ages 5 to 18, participated in a poster contest and created artwork depicting their ideas for safer work zones. A dozen winning entries were included in a calendar that was distributed to schools, NCDOT employees and to the general public to remind motorists to: “Drive Smart. Do Your Part.”
First place: New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT), Santa Fe, “Governor Richardson’s’ Investment Partnership” (GRIP)
The NMDOT launched an integrated communications campaign in the summer 2003 aimed at building public support for GRIP, a $1.6 billion statewide highway, commuter rail and airport infrastructure expansion and improvement program. It included attending city, county and tribal council meetings to share specific details of the plan, publishing informational packets showing the project costs and economic impacts and waging a major print and radio ad blitz. It was supported by nearly 100 cities, counties, business groups and chambers of commerce statewide. GRIP was approved by the legislature and signed into law in November 2003.
First place: Southeast Corridor of Constructors, Centennial, Colorado,
“A Day in the Life of T-REX”
It’ not too often the general public gets an “up close and behind-the-scenes” look into operations on a $1.7 billion, multi-modal transportation project, but that’s exactly what Southeast Corridor Constructors accomplished when it invited the media to the “Transportation Expansion (T-REX)” project along I-25 and I-225 in metropolitan Denver. The company invited journalists and photographers from the Rocky Mountain News, one of Denver’s’ daily newspapers, to spend an entire day on site reporting on every aspect of the project. It resulted in a 16-page special section in the paper in September 2003 entitled “24 Hours in the Life of T-REX,” and reached more than 275,000 stakeholders. The media relations outreach program successfully helped shine the public spotlight on the mega-project and highlighted the ongoing economic benefits of the project as well as the safety benefits that will result once construction is completed.
State Departments of Transportation
First place: South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT), Charleston, “New Cooper River Bridge Project”
By enhancing area employment, education, housing and health/environmental opportunities, the SCDOT’s Cooper River Bridge project has “built a bridge” with a solid community foundation. Recognizing the value of public feedback, the agency opened a “community bridge office” adjacent to the project’s right-of-way to field questions from citizens and track community concerns. Agency officials conducted face-to-face interviews with impacted residents to understand their needs and also enhanced the agency’s employment opportunities. More than 80 previously under-employed and unemployed people were hired to complete the project’s pre-employment program and given on-the-job training positions with the design/build contractor. Such efforts enabled North America’s’ longest cable stay span to be completed a year ahead of schedule and within the $632 million budget.
First place: Rogers Group, Inc., Oak Ridge, Tennessee, “Oak Ridge Operations”
Rogers Group, Inc., developed a multi-pronged approach that served as a model of how to build a strong relationship with Oak Ridge residents, while simultaneously educating young people about the transportation construction industry. It included donating educational materials such as coloring books, aggregate activity books and posters to schools so that students could learn more about the stone industry. Company employees also spent time at several schools teaching students about stones and aggregates. On other fronts, Rogers Group also conducted repair work at one local high school and provided paving services for the Oak Ridge Rowing Association. These outreach initiatives helped further bolster the company’s ties with the community.