From the tragedy that was the collapse of the I-35W bridge on Aug. 1, 2007, in Minneapolis has risen an example of what can be accomplished when the stakes are the highest.
The new bridge there, 10 lanes wide and complete with interchanges and access to several local streets, was finished in just 13 ½ months, three months ahead of schedule. For that, the American Assn. of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), AAA, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have selected the project as the 2009 America’s Transportation Awards Grand Prize winner.
“This is truly symbolic of triumph over tragedy,” said John Horsley, AASHTO executive director. “We know how difficult the past two years have been for the citizens of the entire state but this outstanding project can be seen as a victory for citizens and a legacy for the loved ones lost.”
The organization also honored Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), chair of the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, with the National Transportation Leadership Award for the 21st Century.
In the aftermath of the bridge collapse, the Minnesota Dept. of Transportation detoured nearly 140,000 vehicles, addressed public concerns regarding the old bridge to incorporate those changes into the new design, and began construction of the $234-million replacement.
“This is truly symbolic of triumph over tragedy,” said Horsley. “We know how difficult the past two years have been for the citizens of the entire state but this outstanding project can be seen as a victory for citizens and a legacy for the loved ones lost.”
Florida DOT’s 95 Express Miami Project won the People’s Choice Award, selected by over 200,000 online votes. The project is a $62.9-million high occupancy toll lanes project.
Boxer was recognized for having been instrumental in efforts to create sustainability and climate change and also for pushing authorization of federal highway transportation projects. “Sen. Boxer was our champion in securing $48 billion for transportation in the economic recovery program earlier this year,” said Horsley. “She is pressing for job creation all across the country, and state DOTs are delivering those jobs.”
The competition recognizes outstanding transportation projects in three categories: “On Time,” “On Budget,” and “Innovative Management.” The ten projects that scored the highest during four regional contests competed for both the Grand Prize and the People's Choice Award.
Project winners receive a $10,000 cash award for the winning transportation department to support the charity or academic scholarship program of its choice. Fifty projects were entered and details on each are included in “Smart Solutions: 50 Ways America Just Got Better,” a report from AASHTO and available at www.americastransportationaward.org.
The organization also handed out a series of other transportation awards. All the award winners are listed here.