Five Midwestern states recently earned awards from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials for outstanding transportation projects.
Eight projects representing Missouri, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio won America’s Transportation Awards, according to a press release issued by AASHTO on Aug. 29. America’s Transportation Awards honor state departments of transportation that have led projects to improve safety and foster economic growth.
This round of winning projects ranged from rallying small businesses to helping repair an aging highway to replacing bridges.
“State DOTs are committed to making America safer, better and stronger by improving connections between communities both large and small, urban and rural,” said AASHTO President John Schroer, who also serves as commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Transportation. “The transportation projects in this competition are part of a national multimodal network that is moving millions of people and tons of goods where they need to go every day.”
The awards, sponsored jointly with Socrata, AAA and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, honor projects in three categories: quality of life/community development, the best use of technology, and innovation and operations excellence.
The DOTs for Missouri, Michigan and Illinois won for quality of life/community development. The category was divided on the basis of cost, ranging from small projects (less than $25 million) and medium (between $25 million and $200 million) to large (more than $200 million).
Missouri DOT won in the small category for rebuilding in 42 days the portion of U.S. Route 65 that runs through the state. Michigan DOT won in the medium class for leading workforce development sessions for local businesses as part of its effort to modernize Interstate 94, which runs through Detroit. Illinois DOT claimed the award in the large class for passenger rail improvements between Chicago and St. Louis.
Missouri DOT and Michigan DOT won again for operations excellence. Missouri DOT won in the small class for replacing two bridges in Ozark County that had washed away because of heavy rain. Michigan DOT won in the medium class for adding a “flex route” to U.S. Route 23 north of Ann Arbor, which experiences heavy congestion during peak times.
Ohio DOT also claimed an award in the small category, for replacing an old interchange along state Route 25 with a newer diverging diamond model. The interchange is located in Perrysburg, which is about 110 miles west of Cleveland and has seen increased growth over the past few years.
“Part of ODOT’s mission is to provide easy movement of people and goods from place to place. We’ve seen a lot of growth in the Perrysburg area and were challenged with finding a solution to move traffic more efficiently through one of the busiest intersections in the community,” ODOT spokesman Matt Bruning told Transport Topics. “This project met that challenge and opened the area to pedestrians. We’re proud that our efforts to reduce congestion and increase safety with this project have been recognized.”
Indiana DOT and Illinois DOT won for best use of technology and innovation. Indiana DOT won in the small class, for replacing two bridges carrying I-70. Illinois won in the medium class for building a temporary bridge to alleviate traffic during the reconstruction of the I-55/Lake Shore Drive interchange, which forms an important link to Chicago’s lakefront.
“Innovation and enhancing quality of life are the cornerstones of any great transportation project,” Illinois Transportation Secretary Randy Blankenhorn said in a statement released by IDOT on Aug. 29. “We are thrilled that our projects have been recognized for excellence in these areas and proud of the work we’ve done for the residents of Illinois.”
The Mid-America group represents the last AASHTO region to be recognized this summer. The other groups encompass the Southeast, Northeast and West.
The three highest scoring projects from each region will compete for a grand prize, determined by an independent panel of judges, and the Socrata People’s Choice Award, selected by the public through online voting.