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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. Click here to see the 2023 winners. Read about the 2023 Build a Better Mousetrap winners at this link.

Contact your state's LTAP Center for additional details.

2023 Winners

Innovative Project Award - Utility Pole with MUST device attached in a rural road area.

Innovative Project Award:

Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation for the Mobile Unit Sensing Traffic (MUST) Devices to improve rural road safety. For more information

Bold Steps Award - two lane roadway with yellow centerlines and a blue sky.

Bold Steps Award:

New Jersey Department of Transportation for a Road Diet project to preserve an historic bridge. For more information

Smart Transformation Award - Screenshot of a snow covered roadway from the solar powered cameras in St. Louis County Minnesota.

Smart Transformation Award:

St. Louis County Public Works Department, MN for the Solar-Powered Remote Cameras to assist with emergency response during extreme weather events. For more information

Pioneer Award - Unobstructed traffic lights in Walnut Creek, California.

Pioneer Award:

City of Walnut Creek, CA for the Safe Sightings of Signs and Signals (SSOSS) Software Application to improve traffic signal visibility. For more information

How does the Build a Better Mousetrap work?

* '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

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.

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