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Caltrans Receives National Honors for Five State Transportation Projects

Wed September 03, 2008 - West Edition
Construction Equipment Guide

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has won five prestigious awards from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO).

Caltrans received accolades for its public awareness campaigns on two major transportation projects in the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Area, for hosting a prominent national highway safety campaign and for creating the safety campaign’s striking logo.

“These national awards demonstrate that Caltrans continues to be an innovative transportation leader throughout the United States,” said Caltrans Director Will Kempton.

Caltrans was recognized for the following achievements:

• Winner for “Innovative Management” — Rebuilding the MacArthur Maze: In April 2007, a gasoline truck exploded near the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge among a tangle of freeway ramps known as the MacArthur Maze. Two major freeway ramps were projected to be closed for months. Caltrans implemented an intense public outreach program, which included daily media briefings near the meltdown site and a Web page with updates, news coverage, and a live camera feed so the public could see first-hand the rapid progress of the rebuilding. Working with local transit officials, Caltrans’ public outreach plan created a sea change in Bay Area transportation: a record 2.1 million passengers rode Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), the highest in the agency’s 35-year history. Originally projected to take months to finish, the repairs were completed in 26 days, turning the Maze Meltdown into the Maze Miracle.

• Winner for “Innovative Management” — Public Outreach Program and Replacement of the West Approach of Bay Bridge: The West Approach project closed the lower deck of the Bay Bridge over the 2006 Labor Day weekend for the first time since the bridge was damaged in 1989 by the Loma Prieta Earthquake.

Caltrans initiated the largest public outreach campaign in its history. This included TV, radio and newspaper commercials, flyers, electronic freeway message signs and advertisements in movie theaters. The massive awareness effort helped motorists find alternate routes and prevented regional gridlock.

• Winner of Excel Award — Rebuilding the MacArthur Maze: This is AASHTO’s highest award for public relations programs and campaigns. A summary of Caltrans’ public awareness campaign for the MacArthur Maze is in the first bullet point in this news release.

• Winner of Excel Award — National Work Zone Awareness Week: Every spring, Caltrans holds a memorial to honor its employees who have died in the line of duty. This year’s memorial marked the first time in history that the national kick-off event was held outside metropolitan Washington D.C. Caltrans’ safety slogan, “Slow for the Cone Zone,” was adopted across the United States as this year’s national campaign theme.

• Winner of Graphic Design Award — “Best Logo”: As host of the 2008 National Work Zone Awareness Week kick-off event, Caltrans needed to create a unique identity for the occasion. Using “Slow for the Cone Zone” as a template, Caltrans designed and produced the National Work Zone Awareness Week logo. The logo was used on hundreds of printed materials and online by state departments of transportation throughout the nation, as well as by the Federal Highway Administration.

To view the logo, visit

The awards competition, sponsored by AASHTO, the American Automobile Association and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, honored transportation projects from the Western Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (WASHTO) region. AASHTO membership consists of every state department of transportation and the federal department of transportation. Most Canadian departments of transportation, as well as a few foreign nations are associate members.

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