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Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Region Communications Manager, 360-357-2789 (Tumwater)
OLYMPIA – Fast action and an innovative partnership that reduced a northbound traffic surge on Interstate 5 in Pierce and Thurston counties last year is shining the national spotlight on Washington and providing a $10,000 donation to a state charity.
Earlier this week, the Washington State Department of Transportation’s I-5 Partnership to Relieve Congestion won the coveted America’s Transportation Awards “People’s Choice.” The award was presented during the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials annual meeting Sunday, Oct. 16, in Detroit, Mich.
The project quickly alleviated morning backups on I-5 between Lacey and DuPont, using a government partnership to retime area traffic signals, increase WSDOT incident response team presence and reopen the Mounts Road Gate to Joint Base Lewis-McChord during peak commute times.
WSDOT earned more than 42 percent of the popular vote – topping a field of 10 finalists.
“The overwhelming public support of this project speaks volumes about its benefits for our commuters,” said state Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond, who thanked project team members from local cities, JBLM and the Federal Highway Administration. “We still have work to do to improve drive times in Pierce and Thurston counties, but this award is definitely a reaffirmation that we’re on the right track.”
The national recognition also garnered $10,000 in prize money for the WSDOT Memorial Foundation, a nonprofit organization created to preserve the memory of fallen transportation workers and help support active and retired WSDOT employees and their families.
“It’s difficult to find the words to express the gratitude I feel to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice here at WSDOT,” Hammond said. “Being able to use this award to help the ones those workers loved dearest and to preserve their memories is very special to me and to the WSDOT family.”
A total of 40 projects from 29 states competed for this year’s America’s Transportation Awards. Of the 147,000 votes cast for the top-10 nominated projects, more than 62,000 went to WSDOT for its first “People’s Choice” award. It was WSDOT’s third showing in the top 10 in last four years. AASHTO started the awards competition in 1998.
“These projects best demonstrate the wonderful work that state transportation departments are doing all across the country,” said John Horsley, AASHTO executive director. “In this time of fiscal constraint, it’s important that we recognize some of the numerous projects that finish ahead of schedule, under budget and use innovative strategies, translating into savings for taxpayers and a better transportation system for moving people and goods.”
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