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August 17, 2020 4:15 PM, EDT

Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Wisconsin DOTs Win AASHTO Awards

Ohio welcome sign The Ohio DOT won an award for best use of technology for its Interstate 670 SmartLane, which allows an extra travel lane to open during certain times to relieve congestion. Interstate 670 runs through Columbus. (pabradyphoto/Getty Images)

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Transportation projects in four Midwestern states recently received awards from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.

Five projects representing Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin won America’s Transportation Awards on Aug. 17. The awards honor state departments of transportation that have led projects to improve safety and foster economic growth.

“The people who planned, engineered and built these projects deserve recognition for the positive impacts they have provided through these investments in local communities,” said Patrick McKenna, director of the Missouri Department of Transportation and president of AASHTO.

Patrick McKenna, director of the Missouri Department of Transportation and president of AASHTO

McKenna

“Their work represents a dedication to connecting people and improving local economies while implementing creative solutions," he said.

The awards, which are sponsored jointly with AAA and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, recognize projects in three categories: quality of life/community development, the best use of technology and operations excellence.

The Missouri and Wisconsin departments of transportation won awards in the quality of life/community development category. 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 medium class for replacing the Champ Clark Bridge, which spans the Mississippi River to connect Missouri and Illinois. The original structure, built in 1928, was sometimes affected by flooding. Wisconsin DOT won in the small class for replacing the bridge that carries state Route 116 over the Wolf River in Winneconne, which is about 12 miles west of Lake Winnebago.

The Champ Clark Bridge carries U.S. Route 54 over the Mississippi River between Missouri and Illinois. (Google Maps)

“It is an honor to have one of [Wisconsin DOT’s] projects recognized by America’s Transportation Awards,” said Colleen Harris, Wisconsin DOT Northeast Region director. “We are grateful to everyone in Winneconne for their collaboration during the design process and patience during construction. The result is a very special bridge that maintains the community’s tradition of fishing and using the Wolf River.”

Wisconsin's DOT won an award for replacing the bridge that carries state Route 116 over the Wolf River in Winneconne. (Google Maps)

Minnesota DOT won awards for projects in two categories — operations excellence and best use of technology. The operations excellence award, granted in the small category, honored the department’s Transportation Asset Management System, which oversees signals and lighting activities. For best use of technology, the agency’s Connected and Automated Vehicle Challenge won in the small class. The initiative welcomes public and private groups to submit proposals for solutions that can improve safety and mobility.

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Ohio DOT won for best use of technology in the medium class for its Interstate 670 SmartLane, which allows an extra travel lane to open during certain times to relieve congestion. I-670 runs east-west through Columbus.

The winning states are members of the Mid America Association of State Transportation Officials, a regional group that operates under the umbrella of AASHTO. MAASTO’s members are Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri and Ohio. Seven states in the Midwest region nominated 17 projects during this round of awards.

In addition to Mid-America, AASHTO recognizes regional groups that 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 People’s Choice Award, selected by the public through online voting.

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