Missouri/Illinois DOTs Win Grand Prize for Best Transportation Project

ST. LOUIS, MO (STL.News) The Infrastructure Improvements to Downtown St. Louis project – a collaboration between the Missouri and Illinois departments of transportation – that delivered major multi-modal enhancements to both states, received the Grand Prize in the 2019 America’s Transportation Awards competition.  The $801 million project dramatically improved travel times and provided a new connection to the iconic St. Louis Arch.

“We work hard to deliver quality transportation projects every day,” said MoDOT Deputy Director and Chief Engineer Ed Hassinger.  “It’s great to be recognized for the hard work the entire MoDOT team puts forth.  This award also highlights the importance of partnerships in delivering the critical transportation projects that serve our customers.”

Sponsored by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, AAA, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the 12th annual competition evaluated projects in three categories: Quality of Life/Community Development; Best Use of Technology & Innovation; and Operations Excellence.  Thirty-nine state transportation departments nominated 81 projects in four regional contests.  The four highest scoring projects in each region were among the 12 projects earning the right to compete on the national-level, and battle it out for the two final prizes.

“This annual competition is tough,” said Jim Tymon, AASHTO’s executive director.  “All 81 of this year’s project nominees demonstrate the many ways transportation improves the quality of people’s lives.  Some of these projects increased mobility by giving commuters more travel options, including biking and walking.  Others spurred economic development, cut traffic congestion, or improved safety.  And while we honor today’s champions, the biggest winners are by far the American people.”

The collaborative Illinois/Missouri DOT project involved relocating an interstate to the Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge, a four-lane cable-stayed bridge that opened in 2014.  That bridge set the stage for a broad swath of further improvements, including new lane ramps leading to and from the bridge, as well as an extra lane between St. Louis and St. Clair County in Illinois.  A park then replaced the previous interstate location, with bicycle and pedestrian access points added to the banks of the Mississippi River.

Presented Tuesday at the AASHTO Annual Meeting in St. Louis, the Grand Prize winner will also receive a $10,000 cash prize to be used to support a charity or transportation-related scholarship program of the winning state DOTs choosing.

MoDOT also received AASHTO’s Francis B. Francois award for its data-driven safety analysis tool within its Design-Build Program.  Created in 2000, the Francis B. Francois award recognizes an AASHTO member department of transportation that implemented an outstanding innovative transportation-related program.  The winning transportation department is also provided with $10,000 to fund a state university graduate fellowship.

Traditional safety analysis relies on subjective or limited quantitative measures of safety performance.  The Missouri DOT’s winning program, however, uses modern software tools and practices to analyze crash, roadway, and traffic volume data to quantify the expected safety impact of each decision in the project development process.  By making better informed decisions, MoDOT is reducing serious injury and fatal crashes and optimizing its investments in transportation infrastructure across the state.

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