AMES- The reconstruction of Interstate 680 following the devastating floods of 2011 is in the running to be named the 2012 Best Transportation Project in the United States. The reconstruction project is competing in America's Transportation Awards (ATA), sponsored by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, American Automobile Association and U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The project was nominated by the Iowa Department of Transportation.
The awards process started with regional competitions held earlier this summer. The I-680 reconstruction project was among the 10 finalists selected to compete on the national level for both the People's Choice Award and National Grand Prize. The project was selected in the "Ahead of Schedule/Small Project" category.
The flooding of 2011 was devastating to the western part of Iowa. The most highly traveled and economically impactful roadway section to close was the 3.1-mile section of I-680 connecting Iowa and Nebraska, with an estimated daily traffic count of nearly 18,000. Over four months of flooding, this section of roadway had been completely demolished by the pulverizing current of the Missouri River. It was imperative to both travelers and commerce through the region that the I-680 corridor be reopened as soon as possible. With another unpredictable and often brutal Midwest winter about to set in, the Iowa DOT and its contracting partners were in a race against the clock, the weather and public's expectation to deliver. And deliver they did. The project was opened to traffic on Nov. 4, after only 34 days of construction with no project-related worker safety issues.
Iowans can play a role in selecting the winner of the coveted People's Choice Award by casting their vote on the sponsors' website www.americastransportationaward.org/ The People's Choice Award is presented to the project that receives the greatest number of online votes from the public. Voting is open now through Oct. 19.
The I-680 reconstruction project is also competing for the National Grand Prize, which is awarded to the project receiving the greatest number of points in judging by a panel of experts. Both awards will be presented at the AASHTO Annual Meeting in Pittsburg, Pa., Nov. 16.
The People's Choice Award and National Grand Prize each carry a $10,000 prize that can be used by the winning state for an education grant in the transportation field or to support a community project or charity.