National Contest Selects USA’s Best and Most Popular Transportation Projects

WASHINGTON – The Washington State Department of Transportation’s State Route 99 Tunnel Project, which replaced the dilapidated and earthquake prone Alaskan Way Viaduct in downtown Seattle, has received the Grand Prize in the 2020 America’s Transportation Awards contest. The $3.3 billion project, installed a two-mile long tunnel, designed to withstand a 9.0 magnitude earthquake. Meanwhile, the Georgia Department of Transportation’s Columbus Riverwalk project, which is providing residents with a safe place for biking, jogging and walking, received the highest number of online votes in the competition, earning it the People’s Choice award.

Sponsored by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, AAA, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the 13th annual America’s Transportation Awards competition evaluated projects in three categories: Quality of Life/Community Development; Best Use of Technology & Innovation; and Operations Excellence. Overall, 36 state DOTs nominated 79 projects in four regional contests, with the four highest-scoring projects in each region comprising the top 12 national-level finalists that battled it out for the two prizes announced today.

“Our way of life in America depends on a strong and reliable transportation network and this competition recognizes the people and the projects that keep us moving,” said Jim Tymon, AASHTO’s executive director. “COVID 19 has challenged the transportation industry in many ways, but we moved forward with this year’s competition to highlight the hard work and dedication of the people associated with these projects.”   

The Grand Prize Winner

Photo courtesy of the Washington State DOT. 

Washington State DOT completed the State Route 99 Tunnel Project in 2019.  It replaced the Alaskan Way Viaduct located in downtown Seattle; a 67-year-old elevated highway that had become a public safety concern due to its dilapidated condition and its vulnerability to earthquakes. In partnership with King County, the City of Seattle, the Port of Seattle and the Federal Highway Administration, WSDOT spearheaded the effort to build the tunnel that today includes state-of-the-art fire detection, suppression, and ventilation systems designed to keep travelers safe. The tunnel also set the stage for the re-development of Seattle’s waterfront district.

The People’s Choice Award Winner

Photo courtesy of the Georgia DOT.

Georgia DOT’s 22-mile Columbus Riverwalk project provides the community with a new way to stay active and connected. The $10 million project is spurring economic development in Uptown Columbus by using a series of bridges, raised passageways, and a walking trail to link the community to public transit, schools and universities.

Presented at the AASHTO 2020 Virtual Annual Meeting, the Grand Prize and the People’s Choice awards each come with $10,000 cash prizes to be used to support a charity or transportation-related scholarship program of the winning state DOTs choosing.