“These trailblazing projects from the southern region of the United States play a vital role in bolstering safety, advancing mobility, responding during natural disasters, and creating more multi-modal options for all communities,” said Jim Tymon, Executive Director of AASHTO. “Now in its 16th year, the America’s Transportation Awards commemorate the best of our industry and highlight the critical work that our state DOTs accomplish from coast to coast.”
Nineteen projects in the Southern Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (SASHTO) region were nominated by DOTs for this year’s competition. The following four projects in the Dixie Contractor area were winners of regional America’s Transportation Awards.
The causeway was severed in five different places, cutting off all vehicle access to the islands and leaving the local community stranded. Residents and business owners were unable to cross the three-mile-long bridge, and first responders could only access the islands by helicopter, making the delivery of essential supplies and services a challenging task.
In response to this crisis, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) initiated a $64 million emergency restoration project to repair Sanibel Causeway in just 15 days. FDOT designed temporary repairs that could be constructed quickly and safely, with crews working around the clock to restore drivable access for the over 6,000 residents of Sanibel Island.
“I am grateful for our dedicated team members who quite literally built a road in the Gulf in 15 days,” said FDOT Secretary Jared W. Perdue, P.E. “A project like this, under normal circumstances, could take months. However, FDOT, along with our law enforcement partners at the Florida Highway Patrol, Lee County, and Florida Department of Emergency Management made use of strategic and innovative techniques to rebuild the causeways quickly. Under Governor DeSantis’ leadership, and thanks to the hard work of hundreds of FDOT employees and contractors, we were able to relink Sanibel Island to the mainland.”
The revamped 5th Street Pedestrian Bridge now features numerous shaded benches for pedestrians to rest, water fountains for people and pets, and ample lighting for safety and aesthetic enhancement. The bridge is now listed as an Augusta tourist attraction and is slated to host various community arts events and festivals throughout the year.
This massive undertaking encompassed the reconstruction and widening of 21 miles of I-4, stretching from west of Kirkman Road in Orange County to east of State Road 434 in Seminole County. One of the largest innovations of the project was the introduction of the I-4 Express, which consists of two tolled managed lanes in each direction that enhance travel time reliability and alleviate congestion for commuters.
In addition to the highway improvements, the I-4 Ultimate project saw the reconstruction of 15 major interchanges and the reconstruction, construction, or widening of 140 bridges. To promote alternative forms of transportation, the project included the installation of a pedestrian bridge and tunnel.
Environmental consciousness was also a priority during the project's execution. FDOT implemented various measures to minimize environmental impacts, such as relocating protected wildlife, employing efficient machinery, controlling stormwater runoff, planting noninvasive vegetation, and recycling 99% of the concrete and steel removed from roads and bridges.
“SunTrax solidifies Florida as a leader in the development of transportation technology and is quickly evolving into a nationally and internationally recognized center for advanced mobility solutions,” Perdue said. “This facility is a visionary step that will keep Florida at the forefront of emerging technology, safety, and innovation.”
SunTrax features a 2.25-mile oval track, along with a 200-acre complex that includes specialized testing environments like geometry and loop tracks, a reconfigurable urban environment, suburban area, and technology pad. The facility's main entry campus contains a 20,000-square-foot arrival and conference center, which houses offices, classrooms, and indoor and outdoor event spaces. The complex also features a 27,000-square-foot maintenance building, a 56,000-square-foot workshop building, and a 75-foot-tall observation tower that offers panoramic views of the surrounding test environments.