The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) has announced that innovative projects in Chicago and Atlanta have won the top two prizes in this year’s America’s Transportation Awards competition.
An innovative fix for a congestion-plagued interchange connecting people to some of Chicago’s most popular destinations and a bikeable and walkable greenway that connects neighborhoods in Atlanta’s north side were chosen as the winners in the 11th annual competition sponsored by AASHTO, AAA, the US Chamber of Commerce, and public-sector software company Socrata (part of Tyler Technologies).
The 2018 competition attracted 79 project nominations from state departments of transportation (DOTs) in 35 states. Four regional competitions were held and the three projects from each region receiving the highest ratings competed for the final two awards. An independent panel of industry judges selected the Grand Prize winner, while the project receiving the highest number of online votes earned the Socrata People’s Choice Award.
The Illinois Department of Transportation’s US$135m Interstate 55 and Lake Shore Drive Interchange project earned the Grand Prize, while the Georgia Department of Transportation’s US$9.3m 400 Trail (PATH 400) project was voted the Socrata People’s Choice Award winner.
Presented at the AASHTO Annual Meeting in Atlanta, which was held from September 20-24, the two top awards each came with US$10,000 cash prizes to be used to support a charity or transportation-related scholarship program.
Illinois DOT’s Interstate 55 and Lake Shore Drive Interchange project increased safety, reduced congestion, and cut drive times at a critical connecting point for the area that had previously been plagued with delays. The new interchange now connects a major interstate and an urban expressway near some of Chicago’s most popular recreational and educational destinations. Several creative solutions were used during construction, such as building a temporary bridge to accommodate Interstate traffic in order to avoid closures and detours.
The Georgia DOT’s 400 Trail project earned the highest number of online votes cast in the Socrata People’s Choice Award competition. The 5.2 mile-long (8.3km) multi-modal pathway was built on the right-of-way of GA 400, reclaiming what was previously a highway-only corridor. Turning an under-used gray route into green infrastructure, the pathway provides a critical connection within the community, bringing together 8,000 residents within a walking distance of 10 minutes.
“All of the nominees in the 2018 competition are standouts, representing a wide range of transportation solutions,” said Bud Wright, AASHTO’s executive director. “State departments of transportation are improving safety and the quality of life for their communities while also finding new ways to solve transportation challenges. This year’s top two winning projects are perfect examples of that.”
Patrick Farley, director of government affairs, data and insights for Tyler Technologies, commented, “We applaud all of this year’s nominees, especially the Georgia Department of Transportation for receiving the highest number of online votes and taking home this year’s Socrata People’s Choice Award. GDOT’s 400 Trail project is bringing communities in Atlanta closer together in a healthy and sustainable way.”