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Federal Highway Administration / Publications / Focus / December 2002

Accelerating Infrastructure Innovations

Publication Number: FHWA-RD-03-013
Date: December 2002

NPHQ Awards Honor Highway Best Practices

At its annual conference in Salt Lake City in November, the National Partnership for Highway Quality (NPHQ) presented its "Making a Difference" awards to organizations that excelled in highway design, construction, or management over the past year. The 10 honorees were recognized for their accomplishments in the areas of State Quality Initiatives, Risk Taking, Breaking the Mold, and Partnering.

"It's great to bring people together and showcase their good work to their peers," says NPHQ Administrator Bob Templeton. "We see the awards as a form of technology transfer, where one State can see the success that another has had, and can turn around and use those ideas themselves."

The State Quality Initiatives award recognizes collaboration among State highway agencies, local industries, and FHWA Division Offices. This year the gold award went to the Oregon Department of Transportation's (DOT) Constructibility Review Team for its process for bringing contractor input into the project design stage. NPHQ specifically lauded the State's approach to constructing the flyover and pedestrian structures on the Interstate 5/Highway 217 project, in which facilitators worked with stakeholders to eliminate risks, prevent millions of dollars in added costs from accruing, and shave years of construction delays off the project. The silver award went to the Utah Pavement Council, an assembly of Federal, State, and local industry heads formed to assess pavement issues and make recommendations that will improve road quality while lowering costs.

Group photo of the Kentucky team
The Kentucky team, above, won the gold award in risk taking for its rehabilitation of I-64.
Group photo of the Forest Height Bridge Team
The Forest Height Bridge Team, above, won top honors in Partnering for its reconstruction of a Knoxville, TN, bridge.

The Risk Taking awards are given to groups that take an unconventional approach to a project. The gold award this year was presented to the team that rehabilitated a 5.6-km (3.5-mi) section of Interstate 64 near Louisville, Kentucky. Instead of closing a few lanes and making the improvements in a piecemeal fashion as is often the norm, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and its contractors opted to close the segment entirely. This created a safer environment for workers and allowed them to complete the work 7 weeks ahead of schedule. The silver award went to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and its Queen Isabella Causeway Reconstruction Team, which rebuilt a collapsed bridge near Brownsville a month ahead of schedule through the use of incentives and disincentives and an aggressive schedule. To accomplish the work, TxDOT convinced its partners to accept the challenge of accelerating construction in the face of peak hurricane season.

Utah DOT's Interstate 15 Team received the gold award in the Breaking the Mold category for its use of the design/build technique in the reconstruction of Salt Lake City's main north/south highway corridor. The move saved Utah $32 million and shortened the delivery time on the project from at least 7 years to 4 1/2, ensuring completion before the city hosted the Winter Olympics in February 2002. The silver award was given to the Maryland State Highway Administration and its Neighborhood Conservation Program, whose "When Main Street is a State Highway" planning and design approach matched transportation improvements to each small community's individual character. And a bronze award was given in this category to TxDOT's Plans Online System, an electronic document management system that saves the State $2.5 million per year in paper, printing, and postage.

Finally, Tennessee's Forest Heights Bridge Team won top honors in Partnering for its 7-hour demolition and reconstruction of a dual-span section of Interstate 40/75 in Knoxville. The group's massive coordination of contractors, the trucking industry, law enforcement, firefighters, and the media ensured the success of the project. Maryland won the silver award for its Maryland Quality Initiative Partnering Subcommittee, which is concentrating on communication and cooperation among stakeholders in bringing a greater degree of quality to the State's highways. Taking the bronze in Partnering was Oregon for the redesign of the congested interchange at Interstate 5 and Oregon 217; the $41 million project used steep incentives and disincentives along with A+B contracting to complete the work 56 days ahead of schedule.

NPHQ was founded in 1992 and known until 2000 as the National Quality Initiative. The consortium is comprised of members from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, FHWA, and 10 industry associations. To be considered for an award, States must nominate their projects for honors in one of the four categories. The nominations are reviewed by NPHQ's awards subcommittee, which makes its award recommendations to NPHQ's Steering Committee.

For more information on NPHQ or the Making a Difference awards, contact Bob Templeton at NPHQ, 512-301-9899 (email: btemplenphq@aol.com), or visit the NPHQ Web site at www.nphq.org.

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Updated: 06/27/2017
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