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Build a Better Mousetrap

A celebration of local innovations


Build a Better Mousetrap celebrates innovative solutions for challenges that local and tribal transportation workers encounter. These innovations can range from the development of tools and equipment modifications to the implementation of new processes that increase safety, reduce cost, and improve efficiency of our transportation system.

Build a Better Mousetrap 2021 Nominations are due June 11.
Contact your state's LTAP Center for additional details.

Video: FHWA's Build a Better Mousetrap Program
Build a Better Mousetrap video screenshot

FHWA "Build a Better Mousetrap" 15-second videos

2020 Winners

Beaver Pipe Cage used to stop flooding along the roadways in Niles, New York.

Innovative Project Award:

Beaver Pipe Cage

Town of Niles, NY
Source: Town of Niles, NY

Jaws of Life used to repair crushed culverts in Arapahoe County, Colorado.

Bold Steps Award:

Jaws of Life Culvert Repair

Arapahoe County, CO
Source: Arapahoe County, CO

Screen shot of mobile application used in Mohave County, Arizona to improve their culvert inspection program.

Smart Transformation Award:

Culvert Inspection Application

Mohave County, AZ
Source: Mohave County, AZ

Spring Load Arm Enhancement used in LaMoure County, North Dakota to clear debris from the shoulders of the roadways.

Pioneer Award:

Gravel Saver Spring Load Arm

LaMoure County, ND
Source: LaMoure County, ND

Click here to listen to the 2020 winners discuss their innovations.

How does the Build a Better Mousetrap work?

National Entry Booklets

The National Entry Booklet is a compilation of all entries submitted for Build a Better Mousetrap, representing LTAP/TTAP Centers from around the country.

View National Entry Booklets from prior years.

* 'Centers' refers to Local Technical Assistance Program Centers (LTAP). For complete information, download PDF.

  • Centers solicit their own nominations within their state.
  • Centers select nominations they would like to move forward. Multiple nominations in multiple categories may be submitted.
  • Centers submit their nominations to the Build a Better Mousetrap at CLAS@DOT.GOV under one of four categories:
    1. Innovative Project– Any solution that addresses any or all phase(s) of the ‘project’ life cycle – Planning, Design/Engineering, Construction, Operations and Maintenance. This project shall introduce new ideas, is locally relevant, original, and creative in thinking.
    2. Bold Steps– Any locally relevant high-risk project or process showing a break-through solution with demonstrated high-reward.
    3. Smart Transformation– A locally relevant significant change in any transportation activity or process that is SMART “Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound” in nature that results in improved efficiencies.
    4. Pioneer– A locally relevant product/tool that is among the first to solve a maintenance problem with a home-grown solution.

How are the honorees selected?

In each category, we are looking for original, innovative projects that provide long-term value to the transportation community. In making the selections, the following criteria are considered:

  • recognized importance/ impact;
  • originality;
  • applicability to others;
  • cost effectiveness;
  • time savings;
  • agency or community benefit;
  • and the overall quality of the application.
  • For additional guidance on submitting your nominations, please download the Build a Better Mousetrap Booklet.
Explore LTAP
Innovation Exchange Webinars

Innovation Exchange Webinars

This webinar series fosters conversations for launching change, targeted to local agencies, tribes, and Federal Land Management agencies.

View webinars on-demand →

Online Training Booklet for LTAPs

Download PDF for more information on available online training resources.

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Center for Local Aid Support (CLAS)

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