Projects that revamped a marine highway, kept bighorn sheep off a busy highway to keep drivers and the animals safe, and changed perception of a weekend highway closure from "Carmageddon" to "Carmaheaven" were all recipients of top honors in the western regional America's Transportation Awards competition.
"We are proud of the quality of each of the nominated projects and believe they deserve some recognition for their creativity, innovation and stellar management," said Kirk Steudle, Michigan Department of Transportation director and president of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO). "The America's Transportation Award competition is a great way to highlight tremendous transportation projects that demonstrate how state DOTs continue to deliver value with limited transportation dollars.
Now in its fifth year, the America's Transportation Awards competition—sponsored by AASHTO, AAA and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce—recognizes the very best of America's transportation projects in three main categories: Ahead of Schedule, Under Budget and Best Use of Innovation. The categories are then split up by size: small (less than $25 million), medium (between $25 million and $199 million) and large ($200 million and more). The winners in the western region were announced at the Western Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials 2012 Meeting.
Thirteen transportation projects from 10 western states were nominated.
Two states earned awards in the Ahead of Schedule category: California Department of Transportation's I-405/Sepulveda Pass Project—Mulholland Bridge Demolition ("Carmageddon") (small project) and the Nevada Department of Transportation's Northbound U.S. 395 Improvement Project (medium project).
Colorado Department of Transportation's C-470/Santa Fe Interchange Improvement Project took home the Under Budget award in the small category, while Washington State Department of Transportation's Vessel Construction Program took home the same award in the large category.
In the Best Use of Innovation category, three states took home honors: Texas Department of Transportation's Permitting and Routing Optimization System (TxPROS) (small project); Arizona Department of Transportation's U.S. 93, Hoover Dam to Milepost 17 (medium project); and California Department of Transportation's I-15 Express Lanes (large project).
Winners in the other regions will be announced at their own regional meetings, held throughout the summer. Once all regional winners are announced, the 10 projects with the highest total judge votes will compete for the Grand Prize, awarded to the state DOT project receiving the greatest number of points in judging by a panel of experts; and People's Choice Award, presented to the transportation project that receives the most online votes. Online voting begins Sept. 5. The winners of both awards will be announced at the AASHTO Annual Meeting in Pittsburgh in November.