The National Partnership for Highway Quality (NPHQ) recently awarded two of its National 2006 "Making a Difference" awards to the Georgia Department of Transportation. The awards recognized quality innovations that "promote roads that are completed more quickly, ride better, last longer, reduce congestion, and improve safety."
Entries were judged by a panel of transportation industry leaders who serve on the NPHQ Steering Committee.
The Making a Difference Award program is sponsored by the National Partnership for Highway Quality, which combines public and private highway expertise to deliver quality highways for the safety and mobility of the traveling public. For more information about NPHQ, visit www.nphq.org.
A new Public Communications category was added to this year's "Making a Difference Awards," and the Georgia Department of Transportation captured the category's first Gold Award. The award was for GDOT's extensive communications effort to raise awareness about a heavy highway construction season so motorists could better plan their trips to avoid delays and frustration.
"Construction Jam," as the campaign was called, provided motorists with information and tools to get around construction. A major tool was the Georgia Navigator website, which provided detailed information about construction zones, lane closures and traffic incidents. GDOT also successfully partnered with the media, which helped get the word out about major construction zones and alternate routes.
Through targeted media relations, special events, a speaker's bureau, and an extensive community relations program, the team spread the word about information sources that empowered drivers to avoid congested highway work zones. As a result, a significant drop in traffic occurred on highly-publicized routes with significant lane closures. Numbers revealed that more and more people were using the website for traffic information.
"GDOT's Construction Jam program proved to be a highly effective and well-targeted campaign that focused on public information and education," said NPHQ Executive Director Bob Templeton. "Drivers are less frustrated when they have information that allows them to shift travel times or routes to avoid congestion."
The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) also won the Silver Award in the NPHQ's Breaking the Mold category.
GDOT looked to the Saturn Auto Maker when it made a bold move to put a stop to pesky potholes along Interstate highway shoulders. Instead of the traditional methods to pave highway shoulders, GDOT applied a roller-compacted concrete (RCC) along a section of Interstate 285 in Atlanta. It's a method Saturn used a decade ago for its 134 acres of plant roads, storage yards and delivery areas, which are still in outstanding condition. RCC has been used on smaller projects in the U.S. where there's a need to support heavy loads.
A stiff low-water concrete mixture is applied with asphalt paving equipment and compacted with heavy steel drums. Highway workers found the speed and ease of applying the mixture a real benefit. As for its lifespan, highway crews are regularly monitoring the concrete to determine its durability. It shouldn't take long to find out because I-285 around Atlanta is one of the most heavily traveled truck routes in Georgia.
"GDOT's groundbreaking use of RCC has truly broken the mold of traditional reconstruction efforts," said NPHQ's Executive Director Bob Templeton. "This is the first interstate project in the nation where this application has been used, and if it proves successful, the implications for lower interstate maintenance costs nationwide are momentous."