Transportation construction organizations from Maine to Mississippi were recognized at the American Road & Transportation Builders Association Transportation Development Foundation’s (ARTBA-TDF) seventh annual “PRIDE Awards” luncheon, held May 17, during the association’s “Federal Issues Program” in Washington, D.C.
Established by the ARTBA board of directors in October 1999, the PRIDE Awards honor “excellence in community relations and public education that enhance the image of U.S. transportation construction industry.”
An independent panel of public relations professionals and construction industry journalists selected the winners.
State transportation departments and private sector firms were recognized in the following two categories: Public-Media Relations/Education and Community Relations.
First Place: The Louis Berger Group and the New Jersey Turnpike Authority (NJTA)
The NJTA’s plan to construct a new interchange on the turnpike in Secaucus included the proposed disinterment of an unmarked burial ground dating back to 1880 known as Potter’s Field.
The agency joined forces with The Louis Berger Group to disinter all human remains in the field, reclaim their identities and relocate them to an existing and functioning cemetery.
The Berger Group worked with the news media and relatives of the deceased to keep them informed and to reassure the project was being handled sensitively. After approximately nine months, more than 4,000 remains were relocated and financial resources were dedicated to creating a permanent memorial monument and providing perpetual care of the reinterment site.
Second Place: CTE Engineers Inc.
The most expensive project ever undertaken by the New York State Thruway Authority, the Interchange 8 Reconstruction Project involved a new configuration of connecting roadways linking interchange 87 with interchange 287, and two new higher-speed E-ZPass lanes.
The project’s education outreach program (EOP), developed from an idea by a local resident, was designed to teach local students about the transportation construction industry and roadbuilding process and how the project affected them.
Reaching more than 1,000 students in four school districts, the EOP was successful in supplementing and combining the students’ regular curriculum with information about the project.
Third Place: Ayres Associates
In many places across the country, transportation investment levels are not keeping pace with current demand on highways, bridges and transit systems.
Ayres Associates developed the “Transportation Funding & Maintenance Education Initiative” in Wisconsin to provide public officials, private sector transportation design and construction firms and the business community with strategies to meet these funding challenges.
Ayres Associates executives made presentations to more than 2,000 transportation stakeholders throughout the state highlighting the importance of transportation infrastructure to the economy and quality of life and of participating in the political process to build support for increased investments by elected officials.
Honorable Mention: KCI Technologies Inc. and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission earned honorable mention in this category for their comprehensive public relations initiative relating to construction of the Susquehanna River Bridge.
State Transportation Departments
First Place: Arkansas State Highway & Transportation Department (AHTD)
To help the general public better understand its commitment to environmental stewardship, the AHTD produced “Beyond the Pavement,” an educational video designed to provide greater insight into the agency’s day-to-day activities.
It highlighted the processes used to assess environmental impacts of highway projects before plans are made or land is altered. Approximately 1,500 videos were sent to public schools and libraries in the state and are being shown in each Arkansas Welcome Center.
Second Place: North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT)
To better prepare teen drivers for the safety hazards associated with road construction zones, the NCDOT, the North Carolina State Highway Patrol and the ARTBA state affiliate — the Illinois Road & Transportation Builders Association — joined forces to produce “In the Zone.” The fast-paced video, featuring NASCAR Driver Todd Bodine, contains powerful images and messages aimed at helping students recognize the need to navigate safely when driving through these sites.
More than 1,500 copies have been distributed to driver’s education classrooms across the state.
Third Place: Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT)
“I’m Not Your Mama — Pick It Up, Mississippi” was the feature slogan of a multi-faceted campaign launched in 2003 by the MDOT that has successfully helped reduce the amount of litter along the state’s highways.
Television and radio advertisements and other public education materials delivered a clear message that was humorously geared toward distinct targeted audiences, such as young men ages 18 to 34, who were identified as being responsible for the greatest percentage of highway litter. The campaign also educated the public about the connection between clean highways and a strong state economy.
Community Relations - State Departments of Transportation
First Place: Maine Department of Transportation (Maine DOT)
When Maine DOT engineers began designing a replacement for the steel-suspension Waldo-Hancock Bridge over the Penobscot River, time was among the biggest hurdles.
Unexpected levels of cable corrosion of the historic bridge caused construction to begin instantly, which meant gaining community support in short order for a newly designed cable-stayed bridge.
The department initiated an extensive public involvement process that moved at a rapid pace. Community workshops soliciting advice about the bridge design, a project Web site with question and answer page, live Web cams showing the construction and a final town hall-style meeting, were all part of the department’s program.
Construction of the bridge continues on pace and with the strong support of area residents.
Second Place (tie): Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT)
Dubbed “Upgrade 74,” the $460-million, multi-year reconstruction of I-74 through Peoria and East Peoria was initiated to better handle the traffic flow that has more than doubled in the past 40 years.
IDOT created a speaker’s bureau for the agency’s engineers to deliver more than 200 presentations to local groups and businesses detailing construction activities.
IDOT’s outreach campaign also included development of a project Web site, toll-free hot line, print and radio advertising and a special newspaper supplement to educate motorists about the timing of construction activities and help them avoid delays.
Second Place (tie): Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT)
When Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in 2005, MDOT demonstrated extraordinary commitment and courage in preparing for and responding to the deadly storm.
MDOT law enforcement, maintenance, and construction personnel quickly and safely opened roadways and bridges to facilitate evacuation, emergency response and ongoing relief efforts, including setting up contraflow on Interstates 55 and 59 in only six hours.
MDOT implemented an agency-wide emergency plan before Katrina hit, set up makeshift camps for displaced residents, provided 24-hour live information, loaned and donated patrol cars to neighboring municipalities and repaired storm sewers and traffic signals to aid in rebuilding the infrastructure.
Third Place: Sam Schwartz PLLC
The design team of Sam Schwartz PLLC successfully created a design alternative that allowed for traffic flow and minimal congestion on New York’s West Side Highway/Route 9A and also preserved one of Manhattan’s oldest city squares.
After working with the state Department of Transportation (DOT) and residents of the Tribecca neighborhood, the engineers’ final design reconfigured the intersection to decrease the number of lanes and improve crossing conditions.
Traffic continues to flow unimpeded from Canal Street to much of the city, accessible via West Side Highway/Route 9A. And after an 85 year absence, Canal Street Park re-opened to tourists, visitors and residents in October 2005.
The new park, which is twice the size of the 1807 original, features ornamental fences, granite pavement, evergreen plants and faces the sunset on the Hudson River.
First Place: Cashman/Balfour Beatty Construction and Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA)
Cashman/Balfour Beatty in partnership with the MBTA developed and executed an extensive community outreach program to educate and inform residents and businesses about the design and construction of the $250-million Greenbush commuter rail line in the south shore suburbs of Boston.
It included development of a project-related telephone line and Web site, e-mail alerts and a radio call-in show.
Regular meetings with civic associations, rotary clubs and local members of commerce to provide progress reports also were key to building community support for the project.
Second Place: CTE Engineers Inc. and City of Chicago
The 6.4-mi. complete reconstruction of South Lake Shore Drive (SLSD) improved a major commuter route, restored two cherished lakeside parks and demonstrated that a major urban engineering project can be enhanced by community involvement.
The SLSD is one of Chicago’s major commuter routes, carrying more than 100,000 vehicles daily, but also is a scenic drive located entirely within historic Jackson and Burnham Parks along Lake Michigan.
The project team, with the continual involvement and feedback of a local advisory group, was successful at reconciling the demands of building an efficient modern highway in a major urban park while still preserving a strong connection to the lake and allowing for outdoor activities.
Third Place: KCI Technologies Inc.
KCI Technologies Inc. implemented a comprehensive community relations program for the archaeology recovery efforts related to widening U.S. Routes 11/15, located in the valley between the Appalachian Mountains and Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania.
Excavations conducted at five prehistoric sites recovered artifacts dating back 12,000 years.
The program included scheduled and spontaneous tours during excavations, lectures at nearby schools and before community groups, a pamphlet, poster and project Web site.
Nine articles describing the project were published in local and national periodicals. Several thousand visitors passed through the site during excavations. The outreach program captured audiences, reinvigorated in residents a sense of local history and common heritage and enlightened children and adults.
The ARTBA-TDF also presented a special PRIDE Award to New Orleans-based Boh Brothers Construction in recognition of the firm’s outstanding leadership in recovery and rebuilding efforts following Hurricane Katrina.