WASHINGTON—State department of transportation projects in Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, and South Carolina earned regional recognition in the America’s Transportation Awards for projects that provided innovative transit options in rural communities, improved roadway safety, and boosted freight movement efficiency, among other benefits.
“As the COVID-19 pandemic forced many Americans to drastically change work patterns, state DOT employees continued the harrowing work of keeping our transportation systems operating safely and efficiently for those who had to travel, whether by vehicle or other means,” said Jim Tymon, AASHTO executive director. “The America’s Transportation Awards program highlights just a few of the projects and programs across the country that had a positive impact on our communities’ quality of life during an otherwise uncertain time.”
Sponsored by AASHTO, AAA, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the competition serves as a way to recognize state DOTs and highlights the projects they deliver that make their communities a better place to live, work, and play. Project nominations fall into one of three categories: Operations Excellence, Best Use of Technology & Innovation, and Quality of Life/Community Development. All nominated projects will first compete on a regional level against projects of their own size: “Small” (projects costing up to $25 million), “Medium” (projects costing between $26 million and $200 million) or “Large” (projects costing more than $200 million).
In the Southern region, six states nominated 16 projects. As a result, five state DOTs took home the following eight America’s Transportation Awards.
Florida Department of Transportation — Restoring a Bridge: American Legion Drive over the Peace River project (Quality of Life/Community Development, Small category) (TIE)
Originally completed in 1925, the American Legion Drive Bridge once served as a connector for vehicle traffic. After building a new bridge to handle that traffic, the original bridge closed to motor vehicles in 1985. Now the old bridge serves as a walkway for pedestrians and bicyclists. Florida DOT worked with the city of Arcadia and other local officials to give the old bridge some needed updates to boost safety and better accommodate foot traffic. FDOT also ensured the infrastructure updates met the necessary historical standards as a protected landmark. The $1.2 million restoration effort included straightening the bridge and updates to lighting that help protect pedestrians at night. With those improvements, residents and tourists alike can enjoy the bridge for years to come.
Florida Department of Transportation — Leveraging Innovation: How FDOT Transformed the Gateway to Florida Keys (Best Use of Technology & Innovation, Small category) (TIE)
The Cow Key Bridge provides the only access in and out of Key West for 30,000 residents and 2 million annual visitors. To ease congestion and save time, the Florida Department of Transportation embarked on a $16.7 million upgrade effort. Florida DOT worked with local officials minimize the impact of construction to travelers. To do this, it diverted traffic from one bridge to the other during the construction period. The department also deployed a SMART Work Zone System (SWZS) that included a temporary traffic signal, three closed circuit cameras, and nine Bluetooth devices. The SWZS collected real time traffic data during the construction and maintained efficient traffic operations, which reduced commute times significantly during the project. With those updates, commuters and travelers can safety and quickly access Key West.