Projects in Connecticut, Florida Win Top National Competition Awards

AASHTO Journal, 18 November 2016

The Connecticut Department of Transportation earned the Grand Prize in the 2016 “America’s Transportation Awards” competition for its new Pearl Harbor Memorial Bridge in New Haven, while the Florida Department of Transportation was voted People’s Choice Award winner for work to improve traffic flow to Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale.

The annual competition for projects by state DOTs is sponsored by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, the AAA motor club and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. AASHTO announced the two national prize winners Nov. 14 at its annual meeting in Boston.

Each of them received trophies and $10,000 cash prizes that the state DOTs can direct to charities of their choice or to transportation-related scholarship programs.

capitol0816.jpgNow in its ninth year, the competition attracted a record 84 project nominees from 39 states plus the District of Columbia, which were first grouped in four regional competitions.

Of those, the 12 projects nationwide that received highest ratings in their regions then competed for the final two awards. A panel of experts selected the Grand Prize winner and the Peoples Choice Award went to the project that won the highest number of online votes.

“This year’s Grand Prize winner, the new Pearl Harbor Memorial Bridge – is another perfect example of what this competition is about,” said Bud Wright, AASHTO’s executive director.

“This spectacular new addition to New Haven’s skyline is one of the largest projects in the Connecticut DOT’s history. And it was delivered ahead of schedule and on budget, improving safety, relieving congestion and enhancing travel options for tens of thousands of daily commuters.”

The $554 million bridge spans the Quinnipiac River, connecting 140,000 vehicles daily to several major interstate highways and the Gateway Terminal intermodal port.

Jill Ingrassia, managing director of government relations and traffic safety advocacy at AAA, said the annual project competition “continues to showcase how state and local transportation agencies are using innovative approaches to tackle a broad range of transportation projects . . . that will help to reduce congestion, improve safety and increase efficiency.”

The Florida DOT’s overpass project at the Eller Drive Intermodal Container Transfer Facility won its national prize with 65,000 online votes out of more than 220,000 cast for all 12 finalists. The $42.5 million project improved safety and traffic flow to the Port Everglades cruise and container terminals through upgraded intersections, a new highway bridge, railroad crossing signals and other major improvements.

“It is important to recognize the innovative and resourceful transportation infrastructure projects being done across the country,” said Ed Mortimer, executive director of transportation infrastructure at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “Our organization is a co-sponsor of this annual competition because it demonstrates how these award winning transportation projects are the foundation for America’s economy.”

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