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Federal Highway Administration > Publications > Focus > January 2002 > Champions of Highway Quality Honored
January 2002Publication Number: FHWA-RD-02-006

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Champions of Highway Quality Honored

Champions for continuous quality improvements of America's highways were recognized at the National Partnership for Highway Quality's (NPHQ) awards banquet in Fort Worth, Texas, in November 2001. Winners in five categories were announced, including the 2001 "National Achievement" award honoree.

The NPHQ, a partnership among the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, and 10 industry organizations, presents the NPHQ "National Achievement" award every 2 years, while presenting the "Making a Difference" awards in intervening years. The "National Achievement" award recognizes the best State, county, or city highway, road, or street project that is completed in a timely, nondisruptive, and safe manner for roadway users.

This year, 26 States submitted nominations in the five achievement award categories:

  • The National Achievement Award Winner
  • Special Recognition of a Structure Project
  • Special Recognition of a Small Project (under $20 million)
  • National "Gold Level" Projects
  • State Award Winners

This year's "National Achievement" award winner, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (DOT), was recognized for its "22/renew" Expressway Improvement Project, a $70 million reconstruction and renovation of a 13-km (8-mi) section of U.S. 22. The project included 12 bridge renovations, 5 interchange modifications, and deployment of an Intelligent Transportation System with ramp metering, variable message signs, and Highway Advisory Radio components.

Using innovative traffic management strategies, which included maintaining four lanes of traffic during peak traffic periods, compressing the construction schedule, and deploying a "real-time" traffic control and motorist advisory system, the Pennsylvania DOT managed to minimize delays on an urban expressway that carries an average of 85,000 vehicles a day. The Pennsylvania DOT also implemented a public information and involvement campaign to ensure the project's success. The campaign included launching a project-specific Web site and distributing more than 100,000 copies of an informative 22/renew "Survival Guide." These efforts resulted in 22/renew being completed on budget and 65 days ahead of schedule.

The "Structure Project" award went to the North Carolina DOT for the completion of the Neuse River Bridge in New Bern, North Carolina. This $93 million project involved a series of 12 interconnecting bridges joining 2 major U.S. transportation routes and 1 State route. The Neuse River Bridge replaced the John Lawson Bridge, which presented navigational barriers and was unable to handle the increasing traffic load. The North Carolina DOT worked closely with local interest groups and the Army Corps of Engineers to not only restore the surrounding wetlands as they built, but to maintain water quality for wildlife and enhance the view of the river at this popular tourist destination.

The Maryland State Highway Administration's (SHA) first large-scale utilization of the design-build process, the U.S. 113-Phase 1-Design Build project, earned the "Small Project" award. Working at the local level, the Maryland SHA strove to build trust and cooperation with a customer-focused approach for a project aimed at improving the infrastructure of an area experiencing rapid growth. Completed 18 months ahead of schedule, the project included innovations such as a streamlined permit process, creation of a flexible design adaptable to onsite modifications, and Maryland's first use of cement-amended fly ash. Successful efforts were made to preserve and complement the natural elements of the site, and adjacent natural marshes and ponds were used to assist in highway drainage and to protect the environmentally sensitive Coastal Bays watershed.

2001 NPHQ State Winners

Connecticut

Delaware

Florida

Georgia

Illinois

Louisiana

Minnesota

Montana

Nebraska

New Jersey

New Mexico

South Carolina

Utah

Virginia

Washington State

2001 NPHQ Gold Level Winners

Arizona

Indiana

Iowa

Kansas

Kentucky

Michigan

Oregon

Texas

Eight States were recognized as NPHQ "Gold Level" winners (see sidebar). The Iowa DOT was recognized, for example, for its unique "Design Partnering" process, which was used to garner local support for improvements to U.S. 71. Local opposition to the project, which involved potential environmental risks, dated back to the 1960s. The Iowa DOT's innovative cooperative efforts resulted in the widening of a roadway that bisects lakes, small communities, and two cities. The construction of a new bridge in an environmentally sensitive area involved special erosion control measures to protect West Okoboji Lake, a rare deep-blue spring-fed lake. These successes were highlighted by the fact that the project finished a full construction season ahead of schedule.

Another "Gold Level" winner, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (TC), completed a bridge joint replacement project on a section of Interstate 65 in a record 107 hours. The project, located in Louisville, involved a section of highway that carries more than 133,000 vehicles a day. Such high volumes made it clear that traditional construction methods would cause major headaches to highway users and construction crews alike. Adopting a "Get In, Get Out, and Stay Out" philosophy, the contractors and the Kentucky TC created a six-point strategy that increased safety and avoided unnecessary inconvenience. This strategy included using such techniques as the whole-piece replacement process, which eliminates cold joints in the replaced concrete and asphalt and allows better compaction of the laid asphalt.

An additional 15 States (see sidebar) were recognized and showcased as "State Award" winners. An NPHQ Achievement Award Booklet highlighting all of the award winners is currently being developed.

The diverse 2001 award winners and nominees reflect NPHQ's goals, which include:

  • Improving cooperation among industry; State, Federal, and local agencies; and academia.
  • Regularly identifying customer needs through national and State surveys.
  • Championing the development and implementation of strategies that address customer needs.
  • Promoting safe highways and work zones through such means as identifying and publicizing best practices and innovations; encouraging education and training; and recommending improvements in benchmarking and evaluation.

For more information on NPHQ or its activities, contact Julie Trunk in FHWA's Office of Asset Management at 202-366-1557 (fax: 202-366-9981; email: julie.trunk@fhwa.dot.gov), or NPHQ Administrator Bob Templeton at 512-301-9899 (fax: 512-301-9897; email: btemplenphq@aol.com).

NPHQ's "Making A Difference" Awards

The NPHQ is now accepting nominations for its 2002 "Making A Difference" awards. Teams that have successfully improved quality or customer service for a highway construction or maintenance project, highway maintenance program or activity, or a highway operation program or activity that meets the eligibility criteria specified for these awards, are invited to submit their accomplishments for consideration to the NPHQ. The awards, sponsored by the NPHQ Steering Committee, recognize projects and organizational teams that have excelled in the principles of quality improvement and promoting their initiatives for others to use to "make a difference" in the quality of our Nation's highways. Nominations must be received by May 1, 2002. For more information, contact NPHQ Administrator Bob Templeton at 512-301-9899 (fax: 512-301-9897; email: btemplenphq@aol.com).

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Updated: 04/07/2011

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