The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, AAA, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce next week kick off the seventh annual America's Transportation Awards competition with a new category and a streamlined project nomination process. The four-week nomination period will close April 11.
The competition recognizes the best transportation projects across the nation each year by state transportation departments. The competition this year will showcase projects that finish under budget, those that feature exceptional uses of innovation, and projects that improve the quality of life and development of communities (a new category for the 2014 competition). The Quality of Life/Community Development category will recognize transportation projects that have contributed to the general quality of life and economic development of local communities. These innovative projects help connect people to businesses, jobs, health care facilities, and recreational activities while encouraging a mix of transportation modes. Projects nominated in this category should demonstrate community involvement and interaction, and must illustrate the public benefit for customers/users (e.g. safety, economic development, improved mobility, access to public lands/open spaces, etc.).
Also new in 2014, states can nominate up to three projects and state DOTs that enter a project in each of the three categories will receive bonus points during the judging process.
Within each category, projects compete in three size groups: large (more than $200 million), medium ($26 million to $199 million), and small (less than $25 million). Projects first compete on a regional level (for which winners are announced during the summer at AASHTO's regional meetings), after which the 10 projects with the highest scores move on to compete for the national Grand Prize and the People's Choice Award, the winners for which will be announced at the 2014 AASHTO Annual Meeting, held in Charlotte, N.C. in November.
Last year, 24 states submitted 36 projects. The Utah Department of Transportation earned the America's Transportation Awards Grand Prize, determined by a panel of judges, for its I-15 Corridor Expansion (I-15 CORE) project, which used innovative scheduling and planning techniques to complete the $1.725 billion project two years ahead of schedule while saving taxpayers about $260 million. The Missouri Department of Transportation was awarded the People's Choice Award for its Safe and Sound Bridge Improvement Program that rehabilitated and replaced more than 800 bridges to improve safety more than a year ahead of schedule. MoDOT received the highest number of votes from the roughly 330,000 votes cast in the public online competition. Both UDOT and MoDOT took home $10,000 checks to disperse to a charity or scholarship of their choice, prizes up for grabs again this year.
Projects eligible for the 2014 competition must have been substantially completed and open to use between Jan. 1, 2013 and Dec. 31, 2013. More information on America's Transportation Awards categories and directions for submission is available at AmericasTransportationAwards.org. Questions on the competition may be directed to Maggie Kasperski at mkasperski AT aashto.org or 202-624-7757.