PHOENIX — The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) has earned three first-place regional awards in the 2020 America’s Transportation Awards for improvement projects, including the new Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway in the Phoenix area.

America’s Transportation Awards is a national competition that focuses on efforts to strengthen communities, improve quality of life and foster a more efficient economy. The awards are sponsored by the American Association of State Highway Officials (AASHTO), AAA and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

“ADOT is a national model for efficiency and innovation,” said Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey. “The recent Loop 202 South Mountain project was the largest single freeway project in state history, and it finished three years early with $100 million in savings. I’m grateful for ADOT’s work and the value they provide Arizonans.”

The 2020 America’s Transportation Awards recognized the following ADOT projects in the competition’s three categories:

Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway: First Place in “Best Use of Technology & Innovation, Large Project.”

ADOT used the public-private partnership method to hire a developer to design and build the 22-mile South Mountain Freeway as a single project rather than splitting it into several smaller projects. Part of a total investment of $2 billion, the 22-mile South Mountain Freeway opened to traffic in December 2019. The freeway provides a much-needed new connection between the state’s East and West Valley regions. Innovations include the developer remaining responsible for maintenance of the freeway for 30 years, providing a win-win partnership for taxpayers, motorists and ADOT.

Interstate 10/State Route 87 Improvement Project, including Dust Detection: First Place in “Operations Excellence, Medium Project.”

With a focus on safety and improved traffic flow, ADOT completed much-needed third lanes in November 2019 while realigning and reconstructing a 4-mile stretch of I-10 near Eloy, midway between Phoenix and Tucson. A modernized interchange now connects I-10 and State Highway 87. The $72 million project also features a first-of-its-kind dust-detection system — with weather radar, digital variable speed limit signs, closed-circuit cameras and short-range detectors — along a 10-mile stretch of I-10 near Picacho Peak. The system is designed to warn drivers, encourage them to slow down in poor conditions and reduce the risk of serious crashes that can occur in a region known for severe dust storms.

State Route 347 Overpass at Union Pacific Railroad: First Place in “Quality of Life/Community Development.”

ADOT opened the new six-lane divided highway overpass to improve State Highway 347 traffic flow above the Union Pacific tracks in July 2019. ADOT partnered with the city of Maricopa, Ak-Chin Indian Community and the Federal Highway Administration on the $24 million project to prevent traffic on State Highway 347 in Maricopa from waiting for moving or stopped trains multiple times each day. The overpass has sparked nearby commercial development and job creation while creating a safer way for pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers to get over the tracks.

“Arizonans can be proud of investing in projects that are judged to be among the best in the country,” said John Halikowski, ADOT director. “ADOT is focused on safety improvements, moving people and products more efficiently and strengthening the communities and regions we partner with. These awards are a testament to those efforts.”

All three ADOT projects will now be considered for selection as one of the “Top 12” in the national competition sponsored by AASHTO, AAA and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

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