About the America’s Transportation Awards Competition

Transportation infrastructure plays a significant role in everyone’s life – getting us to our jobs and connecting communities – creating the quality of life that has come to define our nation. America’s best transportation projects make a difference for the people and businesses who use them.

AASHTO, AAA and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce each year recognize the projects and programs that make their communities better places to live, work and play. The awards focus on getting more out of the existing system; implementing new technologies and innovations; and projects that improve overall quality of life and enhance community development.

Now in its 14th year, the America’s Transportation Awards helps to showcase why transportation infrastructure–and why properly funding it–is so vital.

The categories for the 2021 America’s Transportation Awards competition are:

Operations Excellence

Projects nominated in in the Operations Excellence category should demonstrate the ability to operate the existing transportation system as safely and efficiently as possible. They make more effective use of already existing transportation assets and processes (such as infrastructure, procedures, technology, partnerships, etc.) that allow for cost-effective, near term solutions. Nominations in this category might also include efforts at maintaining or even regaining previous levels of capacity while improving safety performance levels, and can be focused on specific areas of operations activities, such as maintenance, traffic incident management, arterial management, etc.  Because an operations approach requires not just improving the system directly, but also an additional focus of maintaining an operations–focused mindset, this category is open to projects that have improved operations programs, or the role of operations within the agency.

Best Use of Technology & Innovation

The Best Use of Technology & Innovation category recognizes new technology and/or creative and innovative solutions implemented by a state department of transportation as part of a transportation project. Nominees should focus on how the new technology or innovative solution was able to help the project in a way no other solutions could (for example, did it save time, money or help the community? Did it help the DOT tackle other hurtles?).

Quality of Life/Community Development

These innovative projects provide a better solution to connect their communities to businesses, jobs, health care facilities, and recreational activities while encouraging a mix of transportation modes. Priority is given to projects that enhance and support transit and non-motorized transportation. Project nominees should demonstrate community involvement and interaction, and must illustrate the public benefit for customers/users (e.g. – safety, economic development, improved mobility, access to public lands/open spaces).

All nominated projects will first compete on a regional level against projects of their own size–Small (projects costing less than $25 million), Medium (projects between $25 million and $199 million) or Large (projects $200 million or more).

After all regional meetings have taken place over the summer, the three highest scoring projects from each region will be named the “Top 12” and will go on to compete for the top two national prizes.

  • The Grand Prize is selected by a panel of judges
  • The People’s Choice Award is decided by online popular vote (votes are scaled to state populations to determine the winner and allow smaller states to compete more fairly)

Winners will be announced at the 2021 AASHTO Annual Meeting in San Diego.

Winners of those top two prizes will each receive $10,000 to donate to a charity or scholarship of their choice.

Have questions? Contact Kaitlyn Meuser, AASHTO marketing specialist, at 202-624-5470 or by email at kmeuser AT aashto.org or Maggie Kasperski, AASHTO communications manager, at 202-624-3659 or by email at mkasperski AT aashto.org.