The 12 finalists for the 2022 America’s Transportation Awards have been announced, and they include emergency repairs to the Hernando de Soto Bridge between Tennessee and Arkansas.
The Tennessee Department of Transportation was chosen as one of the finalists for its work to suddenly shut down the bridge after a crack was spotted and then reopen the bridge in 83 days after it was repaired.
Other projects include widening one of the busiest roads in Texas, finishing a stunning bridge over the Mississippi River and projects to restore old bridges, reconnect a neighborhood cut off by an interstate and connect barrier islands in South Carolina with a new bridge.
The 12 finalists are as follows:
The major Mississippi River crossing for drivers on Interstate 40 was closed May 11, 2021, after a crack was found on a steel beam during a routine inspection. Inspectors immediately called 911 to close the de Soto Bridge between Memphis, Tennessee, and West Memphis, Arkansas. The closure led to traffic delays, as about 50,000 motorists use the bridge each day and were being rerouted. An Arkansas DOT lead inspector was fired for not reporting the crack in previous inspections. “Tennessee DOT initiated a multi-phased emergency repair operation involving drones to observe and assess the fracture and state-of-the-art techniques that allowed TDOT to repair and not replace the fractured structure – saving time and money,” says the project’s nomination description.
Iowa and Illinois DOTs
A four-year, $981 million project to build a new I-74 bridge over the Mississippi River between Moline, Illinois, and Bettendorf, Iowa, was completed at the end of 2021. The new bridge features two stunning basket-handle arches and is twice as wide as the 86-year-old bridge it replaced, with four lanes in each direction. The Iowa and Illinois DOTs are jointly nominated.
Minnesota DOT’s $19.2 million Trunk Highway 61 Grand Marais Reconstruction Project improved pedestrian mobility and safety along the north shore of Lake Superior.
New Jersey DOT
New Jersey DOT’s $88 million Route 495, Route 1&9/Paterson Plank Road Bridge project restored the 84-year-old bridge. The corridor handles 150,000 vehicles each workday.
New York State DOT
New York State DOT’s $23 million State Route 5S and North Genesee Street Multi-Modal Safety and Connections Enhancements project replaced outdated roadways with modern intersections and a roundabout, improving traffic flow and reducing crashes.
South Carolina DOT
South Carolina DOT’s new $70 million Harbor River Bridge in Beaufort County replaced a deteriorated swing bridge leading from St. Helena Island to Harbor Island, Hunting Island State Park and Fripp Island. Traffic was able to keep moving throughout construction by using barges to create an access road across the saltmarsh and open water.
Texas DOT’s $228 million U.S. 281 North Expansion segment 1 project added high occupancy vehicle lanes, connections to park-and-ride facilities, bike and pedestrian lanes, and new flyover ramps to ease congestion on one of the San Antonio area’s busiest roadways.
The Virginia DOT’s $23 million Chatham Bridge rehabilitation project not only updated the 81-year-old bridge in Fredericksburg but added a 10-foot-wide path for bikes and pedestrians to connect to a local trail, a more expansive bridge deck, new LED lighting and a scenic overlook of the Rappahannock River.
Pennsylvania DOT reconnected a neighborhood and gave neighbors a new place to gather with its $30 million I-579 Urban Open Space Cap project. The project remedied the cutting off of the Lower Hill District from downtown Pittsburgh with the construction of I-579 in the 1950s.
Washington DOT’s $500,000 Active Transportation Plan calls for providing better and safer infrastructure for those who walk and bike.
Caltrans found a new way to connect with customers on projects through a $250,000 public engagement tool. The 360 Tours’ interactive, web-based interface allows the public to explore a construction project using virtual reality.
Mid America Association of State Transportation Officials
And MAASTO, which consists of 10 state DOT members, worked together to ensure movement of emergency supplies during flooding, tornadoes, Covid and other disasters. The states collaborated to identify acceptable emergency load truck weights and agreed to expedite these shipments across state lines during presidentially declared disasters through a memo of understanding.
The finalists were chosen from 80 nominees and selected from four regional contests. They now compete for the Grand Prize and People’s Choice Award, each of which comes with $10,000 cash to be donated to a charity or transportation-related scholarship of the winners’ choice.
The awards are sponsored by the American Association of State Highway & Transportation Officials, AAA and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. AASHTO will announce the winners October 22 during its annual meeting in Orlando, Florida. Online voting is underway and ends at 11:59 p.m. October 21 for the People’s Choice Award. You can vote at AmericasTransportationAwards.org.