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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.

2019 Winners

Pothole tracking app

Rolling Rock for Salt Spreaders Boost Safety

East Brandywine Township; Chester Co., PA
Source: ©2019 Matthew VanLew, East Brandywine Township, Pennsylvania

A guardrail reclaimer

360-degree Camera Sled Transforms Culvert Inspections

Olmsted County Public Works in MN
Source: ©2019 Olmsted County Public Works, Minnesota

Portable manhole

Temporary Roundabouts Protect Officers and Drivers

City of Wilmington, NC
Source: ©2019 City of Wilmington, North Carolina.

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 solicit their own nominations within their state.
  • Centers select nominations they would like to forward.  Multiple nominations in multiple categories may be submitted to increase the odds of winning.  FHWA may ask for additional information during the evaluation process.
  • Centers submit their nominations to the Build a Better Mousetrap at CLAS@DOT.GOV under one of four categories:
    1. Innovative Project– This category celebrates a local agency or tribe that implemented a new technology or design in construction. The innovation enhances the quality, timeliness, cost effectiveness, safety, environmental benefit and/or efficiency of the highway project.
    2. Bold Steps– This category recognizes a local or tribal agency that embraced forward thinking in the development and implementation of an innovative practices that improves or streamlines transportation related processes. The innovative change should show improvement in performance, management and efficiency. This award could include advancements in areas of program and project management, finance, safety, mobility, sustainability, and maintenance.
    3. Smart Transformation– This category celebrates development and deployment of solutions that improve field data capture, data analysis, automation and real-time collection, and/or implementation of smart infrastructure. This award category is not intended for the implementation of “off the shelf” products or customizable solutions that are available in the market and/or provided by a specific vendor.
    4. Pioneer– This category recognizes agency inventors that develop new tools and equipment that provide a better way to do a job or advance road maintenance and construction. Implemented tools and methods should be an original design or creative adaptation that results in significant advancement, rather than the result of natural evolution of existing methods, common sense or good practice. Entries should demonstrate genuine change and innovation that can impact the wider transportation community.

How are the winners selected?

In each category, we are looking for original, innovative projects that provide long-term value to the transportation community. In selecting a winner, 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.

Winners will be selected by an independent panel of judges. All entries will be posted on and compiled into an electronic booklet for you and your clients to learn more about the best practices from around the country.

Explore LTAP
Innovation Exchange Webinars

Bill Grants Federal Requirements Seminar New

An introductory webinar to assist local and tribal agencies with applying for transportation funding under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL).

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Online Training Booklet for LTAPs

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