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Federal Highway Administration / Publications / Focus / September 2004

Accelerating Infrastructure Innovations

Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-04-029
Date: September 2004

Excellence in Highway Design 2004

The Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) Excellence in Highway Design Awards Program recognizes outstanding examples of highways, bridges, pedestrian facilities, roadside facilities, and other facets of roadway design. The 2004 honorees encompass everything from historic bridges to stunning modern structures to urban greenways, all contributing not only to safety and mobility but to the aesthetics of the natural world around them.

The 2004 awards were announced at the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on September 18. The individual awards will be presented to the winners at later dates by their local FHWA Division Administrator. For more information on the awards program, contact Program Coordinator Donald R. Jackson at FHWA, 202-366-4630 (email: donald.jackson@fhwa.dot.gov).

Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge

Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge

Excellence Award Winners

Category 1-The Urban Highway

Reconstruction of South Lake Shore Drive, Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT)

US 41, South Lake Shore Drive, is one of Chicago's primary commuter routes, carrying more than 100,000 vehicles a day. It is also a popular scenic drive alongside Lake Michigan. IDOT and CDOT's reconstruction of the Drive balanced these two demands by using a context-sensitive plan that not only improved the roadway but enhanced the neighborhood. Notable elements of the plan include a new roadway drainage system that has improved water quality for Lake Michigan, new pedestrian underpasses, and the restoration of the historic Animal Bridge.

Contact: Chris Wuellner, CDOT, 773-373-6246, ext. 17.

South Lakes Shore Drive
South Lakes Shore Drive

Category 2-The Rural Highway

I-35 Interchange at Medford, Minnesota, Minnesota Department of Transportation (Mn/DOT)

Faced with an inadequate 1958 diamond interchange and two-lane crossover bridge on Interstate 35 at Medford, Mn/DOT chose the innovative solution of installing two roundabouts on either end of the bridge to better handle the traffic and improve safety. Partnering with the community resulted in a unique gateway into Medford, with such architectural details as a red brick-patterned concrete surfacing treatment to enhance the visual appeal of the roundabouts.

Contact: Scott Robinson, Mn/DOT, 651-284-3783.

Roundabouts being used to improve traffic flow and safety
I-35 Interchange at Medford, Minnesota

Category 3A-Major Highway Structures (Over $15 Million)

Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge, HNTB Corporation, Massachusetts Turnpike Authority, and FIGG Engineering Group

Called the crown jewel of Boston's Central Artery/Tunnel Project, the Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge's distinctive structural form serves as a new gateway to the city. At 55 m (183 ft), the Zakim Bridge is the widest cable-stayed bridge in the world. Stay cable geometric refinements eliminated the need for external cable anchorages at the bridge's towers, contributing to the compact, clean lines of the bridge.

Contact: Ray McCabe, HNTB Corporation, 212-594-9717.

Category 3B-Major Highway Structures (Under $15 Million)

Olympia-Yashiro Friendship Bridge, City of Olympia, Washington; T.Y. Lin International; and Hamilton Construction Company

The new Olympia-Yashiro Friendship Bridge replaces a historic structure with a context-sensitive design developed after extensive public participation. The bridge's artistic elements, including a border of stone and pebble and sidewalk mosaics, complement the surrounding environment.

Contact: Jay Burney, City of Olympia, 360-753-8740.

Category 4-Environmental Protection and Enhancement

Reconstruction of County State Aid Highway (CSAH) 15, Lake County Highway Department, Minnesota

The 37-km (23-mi) reconstruction of CSAH 15 covers a portion of the Superior National Forest Scenic Byway. The design helped to minimize ground disturbance. In one section where earthmoving was required, for example, a pond was created that now provides nesting for the area's wood turtle population.

Contact: Alan Goodman, Lake County Highway Department, 218-834-8380, ext. 1.

County State Aid Highway (CSAH) 15
County State Aid Highway (CSAH) 15

Category 5-Historic Preservation

Ocean-to-Ocean Highway Bridge, Yuma County Department of Development Services, City of Yuma Department of Public Works, and Quechan Indian Tribe

The Ocean-to-Ocean Bridge Rehabilitation Project reestablished a vital and historically significant highway linkage across the Colorado River between Arizona and California. Constructed in 1915, the bridge provided the first safe, economical crossing of the river at Yuma, but was closed to traffic in 1988 because of concerns about its structural integrity. The rehabilitation project restored the bridge to its original grandeur and improved traffic control so that the bridge could be rated for highway traffic.

Contact: Roger A. Patterson, Yuma County, 928-329-2300.

Ocean-to-Ocean Highway Bridge
Ocean-to-Ocean Highway Bridge

Category 6-Highway Related Projects

H. Dana Bowers Safety Roadside Rest Area, California Department of Transportation (Caltrans)

The H. Dana Bowers Safety Roadside Rest Area and Vista Point is located within the Marin Headlands, which is part of the Golden Gate Recreation Area in San Francisco. The rehabilitation of the Vista Point allows the site to better meet the requirements of its 2.5 million annual visitors, while remaining in harmony with its National Park setting.

Contact: Lyle B. Oehler, Caltrans, 510-286-5918.

H. Dana Bowers Safety Roadside Rest Area
H. Dana Bowers Safety Roadside Rest Area

Category 7-Intelligent Transportation Systems

Route 38 Crash Avoidance System, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PENNDOT) and Trans Associates

To improve the safety of two intersections on State Route 38, PENNDOT installed a Crash Avoidance System (CAS), which uses pavement sensors to identify the presence of vehicles to motorists approaching the intersection. Special crossroad warning signs display a "Traffic Ahead" message and an LED picture of a car on the right and/or left side of the sign, to let motorists know where the car is approaching from. The CAS has been effective in both reducing accidents and lowering the approach speeds of motorists.

Contact: Timothy R. Pieples, PENNDOT, 724-357-2819.

Route 38 Crash Avoidance System
Route 38 Crash Avoidance System

Category 8-Intermodal Transportation Facilities

Hiawatha Light Rail Line, Hiawatha Light Rail Transit, Mn/DOT, and Metro Transit

Fifteen new transit stations for the Hiawatha Light Rail Line have been designed by the top design firms in Minnesota, providing unique buildings that reflect each neighborhood's personality. The Franklin Avenue Station, for example, is a bright cherry red arched structure that both enhances the transportation system and symbolizes the rejuvenation of the surrounding community.

Contact: Jennifer Lovaasen, Hiawatha Light Rail Transit, 612-215-8201.

Hiawatha Light Rail Line
Hiawatha Light Rail Line

Category 9-Highway Improvements on Publicly Owned Land

Grand Loop Road, FHWA Western Federal Lands Highway Division Office and Yellowstone National Park

For FHWA and Yellowstone National Park, improving a 15.6-km (9.7-mi) segment of the Grand Loop Road Historic District in the Park meant balancing the need to widen the road, originally built for Model T's, while avoiding or minimizing any impact to the Park resources. Roadside impacts were mitigated during construction through such techniques as conserving topsoil in small windrows along the slopes, which easily allowed for replacement of the topsoil in the location where it was removed.

Contact: Craig S. Dewey, FHWA, 360-619-7702.

Grand Loop Road
Grand Loop Road

Merit Award Winners

Category 1

Route 21 Freeway Extension, New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT)

The completion of the Route 21 freeway extension has provided the final link in the regional roadway network that serves northeast New Jersey. The project included the widening and reconstruction of a historic arch bridge over the Passaic River.

Contact: Steven J. Manera, NJDOT, 609-530-2460.

I-5, Oregon Highway 217/Kruse Way Interchange, Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT), Region 1

This project addressed traffic congestion and safety problems at the busiest interchange in Oregon. A major feature of the project was the construction of a sweeping fly-over ramp that has an adjacent bicycle and pedestrian bridge.

Contact: Steven M. Harry, ODOT, 503-731-3490.

Category 2

Highway M-63 Reconstruction Project, Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT); Fishbeck, Thompson, Carr & Huber, Inc.; and Soil and Materials Engineers, Inc.

This reconstruction project improved Highway M-63 for motorists, reduced bridge and highway maintenance costs, and enhanced the area for brownfield redevelopment.

Contact: Stephen C. Nichols, Fishbeck, Thompson, Carr & Huber, Inc., 616-575-3824.

Reconstruction of Trunk Highway 22, Mn/DOT, District 7

The reconstruction of Trunk Highway 22 balanced safety and mobility needs with community and environmental values, while also integrating visual and aesthetic considerations. The Minnesota River Bridge was widened, for example, to meet current design standards and to provide for a bicycle and pedestrian trail that can also serve as a snowmobile trail during the winter months.

Contact: Scott Bradley, Mn/DOT, 651-284-3758.

Category 3A

Sixth Street Viaduct, City of Milwaukee; Wisconsin Department of Transportation, District 2; and Milwaukee County

The replacement of the deteriorating Sixth Street Viaduct in downtown Milwaukee was the first design-build transportation project in the State. The Viaduct now features twin high-performance concrete cable-stayed bridges, which are a new landmark in the downtown area.

Contact: Brian Swenson, HNTB Corporation, 414-359-2300.

New Carquinez Suspension Bridge, FCI Constructors, Inc./Cleveland Bridge California, Inc.; Parsons; and Caltrans

The New Carquinez Suspension Bridge links the California Central Valley to the San Francisco Bay Area, replacing a bridge built in 1927. The sixth longest bridge span in the United States and the first suspension bridge built in this country in more than 35 years, the new bridge has a light, open structure.

Contact: John E. Hill, FCI Constructors, Inc., 707-742-6017.

Category 3B

U.S. Route 20 Bridge over Eighteen Mile Creek, New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT), Region 5

Eligible for the National Historic Register, this 1927 open-spandrel arch bridge had seriously deteriorated and had load restrictions. To rehabilitate it, the NYSDOT had to use modern materials and methods, while not significantly altering the appearance of the structure. For example, designers installed precast concrete fascia panels to mimic the look of the original spandrel arches.

Contact: Keith Baran, NYSDOT, 716-847-3203.

Replacement of Route 8 Bridge over the Hudson River, NYSDOT, Region 1, and Barton & Loquidice, P.C.

This truss structure replaced a Pennsylvania camel-back steel truss that had been built in 1919. The new truss is of similar shape and color, so as to integrate visually with the rich historic and scenic surroundings of the Adirondack region.

Contact: Angelo M. Trichilo, NYSDOT, 518-388-0252.

Category 4

Texas Right-of-Ways, Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), Maintenance Division, Vegetation Management Section

Since 1927, TxDOT's Wildflower Program has strived to establish right-of-ways that blend into their surroundings, not only helping highways to look good, but also reducing the cost of maintenance by encouraging the growth of native wildflower species that need less care.

Contact: Dennis Markwardt, TxDOT, 512-416-3093.

Bat Protection Program, Sacramento County Department of Transportation and Sacramento County Department of Environmental Review and Assessment

Early in the planning of the Franklin Avenue Bridge Replacement Project, it was discovered that the bridge provides habitat for a maternal colony of approximately 40,000 Mexican free-tailed bats. County staff developed an aggressive bat-protection program, which included building temporary bat houses during demolition of the old bridge and incorporating bat housing into the design and construction of the new bridge.

Contact: Dave Franke, Sacramento County Department of Transportation, 916-874-6673.

Annsville Creek Paddlesport Center, NYSDOT, Region 8, and New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation

To improve public acccess to the Hudson River, the NYSDOT transformed part of its maintenance yard into a waterfront park, which includes a boat launch and three cantilevered decks for recreational fishing and wildlife observation.

Contact: William Gorton, NYSDOT, 845-431-5848.

Category 5

Mill Ruins Park, Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board and URS, Inc.

Mill Ruins Park serves as the centerpiece of the revitalized Minneapolis West Side Milling District. The park's features include the Canal Plank Road, whose durable white oak surfacing follows the alignment of the original wood-plank decking that once covered the main inflow canal that powered the Milling District.

Contact: Rachel Ramadhyani, Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, 612-230-6470.

Oak Forest Bridge, TxDOT and A/P Resources, Inc.

To preserve the Oak Forest Bridge, built in 1913, TxDOT relocated the structure from the Guadalupe River in Gonzalez County to Kerr Creek in the City of Gonzalez. While the bridge could no longer meet modern traffic requirements in its previous location, now it safely accommodates bikes and pedestrians.

Contact: Charles E. Walker, TxDOT, 512-416-2272.

Orr Roadside Parking Area Rehabilitation, Mn/DOT

Designed in 1937, the Orr Roadside Parking Area (RPA) was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2002. Mn/DOT's rehabilitation of the RPA retained its distinctive Rustic style, while improving safety for travelers.

Contact: Liz Walton, Mn/DOT, 651-296-0295.

Category 6

I-26 Welcome Center, North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT)

Located in the Appalachian Mountains of Madison County, the I-26 Welcome Center was built on a site containing more than 4 million cubic yards of waste material from the grading of I-26. The overlook provides stunning views of the Black Mountains and Mount Mitchell, while native vegetation around the Welcome Center enhances the beauty of the site.

Contact: John Lansford, NCDOT, 919-250-4016.

Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail-Akron Segment, Environmental Design Group, Inc.; City of Akron, Ohio; and Metro Parks

The Ohio and Erie Canal National Heritage Corridor is a 177-km (110-mi) long continuous greenway. The Akron segment of the Corridor connects an urban population with this important natural resource.

Contact: Dennis J. Mersky, Environmental Design Group, Inc., 330-375-1390.

Category 7

Bay Area Incident Response System (BAIRS), Caltrans

BAIRS is an incident tracking system that helps Caltrans quickly identify and respond to traffic incidents in the Bay Area. It is expected to reduce the average traffic incident resolution time from 4 hours to 90 minutes or less.

Contact: Robert E. Rosevear, Caltrans, 510-286-5445.

Category 8

High Point Train Station, City of High Point, North Carolina, and the NCDOT Rail Division

Built in 1907, the High Point Train Station has been restored to its original beauty, offering a convenient and comfortable multimodal facility for train and bus passengers.

Contact: Craig M. Newton, NCDOT Rail Division, 919-733-7245, ext. 253.

SR 90 and SR 519 Intermodal Access, Phase 1, Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT)

Phase 1 of this project provides a direct connection from I-90 to the Seattle waterfront, including such sites as the Pioneer Square Historic District.

Contact: Bruce Nebbitt, WSDOT, 206-464-1363.

Category 9

Blue Lakes Road, FHWA Central Federal Lands Highway Division Office and Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest

The reconstructed California Forest Highway 134 (Blue Lakes Road) now meets modern roadway standards, with a design that has improved access to the many scenic areas of Alpine County, while still protecting the mountain environment.

Contact: Larry Smith, FHWA, 303-963-3448.

Hanalei Bridge, State of Hawaii Department of Transportation (HDOT), Highways Division, and Wilson Okamoto Corporation

The new Hanalei Bridge in Kauai retains the historic look of the original 1912 structure, while improving safety and increasing strength and durability.

Contact: Steven M. Kyono, HDOT, 808-274-3111.

Honorable Mention

Category 1

Watt Avenue Improvement Project, Sacramento County Department of Transportation, Nolle and Associates, and MCM Construction, Inc.; Ferry Street from the Mississippi River Bridge to US Highway 10, Mn/DOT and the City of Anoka, Minnesota

Category 2

Searsburg-Wilmington NH F010-1(18), J.A. McDonald Inc., Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans), and Gary DuBray, SET; I-26-Buncombe and Madison Counties, NCDOT; Cushing Creek, Caltrans, Sierra Club, and Redwood National & State Park

Category 3

3A: US 64/NC 264, NCDOT; US 20 Iowa River Bridge, Iowa Department of Transportation, HNTB Corporation, and Jensen Construction.

3B: Keslinger/Peck Grade Separation, Kane County, IL, Division of Transportation, Teng & Associates, and Robert H. Anderson & Associates; Germantown Avenue over Wissahickon Creek, City of Philadelphia, URS Corporation, Inc., and Neshaminy Constructors

Category 4

Gray County Safety Rest Area, TxDOT; Jackson Creek Scarp and Fish Passage Project, ODOT

Category 5

King of Prussia Inn Relocation, FHWA, PENNDOT, and URS Corporation

Category 6

Ten Mile River Bikeway Segment 5, Rhode Island Department of Transportation, United International Corporation, and J.H. Lynch & Sons, Inc; Ray Road Pedestrian Bridge at Thunderhill, SVR, Inc., and City of Phoenix Street Transportation Department; Winooski River Trail Bridge, VTrans, Town of Colchester, and City of Burlington

Category 8

Well's Regional Transportation Center, Maine Turnpike Authority and HNTB Corporation; Southwest Station (MN), Southwest Metro Transit Authority, North American Properties, and LSA Design, Inc.

Category 9

US 59-Southwest Freeway at the Brazos River, TxDOT; Mesa Falls Scenic Byway (ID), FHWA, Western Federal Lands Highway Division Office

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Updated: 06/27/2017
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