BATON ROUGE, La. – The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) received national recognition as the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce named the department as one of the top ten finalists in the country to be considered for the 2009 America’s Transportation Award and People’s Choice Award.
A panel of judges evaluated 50 highway projects from 33 states in three categories: “On Time,” “On Budget” and “Innovative Management.” Under the “On Time” category, DOTD received recognition for its efforts to preserve history during the Front Street Natchitoches Restoration Project.
“The department is honored to be among the top ten finalists competing for these prestigious awards,” said DOTD Secretary William D. Ankner, Ph.D. “Despite facing several hurdles, which included the destruction caused by Hurricane Gustav and the unique challenge of doing both a construction and archaeological project, Front Street was completed on schedule. I am very proud of my employees for their hard work and coordination on this project.”
“These projects show that states are being accountable for every dollar they receive from the taxpayers. They are using the smartest technology in their projects, and they are investing in their communities by reducing congestion, protecting the environment and enhancing safety. In these tough economic times, the value of rapid and efficient highway construction gets magnified even more,” said John Horsley, AASHTO executive director.
The competition continues as DOTD competes for the America’s Transportation Awards’ Grand Prize and the People’s Choice Award. The America’s Transportation Awards’ Grand Prize is a cash prize of $10,000, which will go toward transportation education for the department or the community. The winner will be determined by an independent judging panel.
The People’s Choice Award is also a cash prize of $10,000, which will go toward a charity or community organization of DOTD’s choice. The winner of the People’s Choice Award is determined by popular vote, and the public can support DOTD by casting their votes on-line at www.americastransportationaward.org. Voting will last through Oct. 23.
Front Street (La. 6 Business) in Natchitoches is one of the few brick-surfaced streets in the Louisiana Highway System. The project rehabilitated six city blocks by removing, cleaning and replacing each of the 300,000 roadway bricks by hand once the existing roadway base was replaced. In addition to repairing the failed road base, the project scope included upgrading the city’s drainage system.
During construction, archaeological investigations uncovered unique artifacts from the 17th- to 19th- centuries. Such artifacts included Native American ceramics from the 1700s, French colonial ceramics including glass, beads and gun flints from the 1700s, and a variety of transfer-printed and other decorated-type ceramics, glass wares, buttons and metal from the 1800s. Other interesting finds were a 109-year-old silver dollar from the New Orleans Mint, a 10,000 gallon gas tank that was used by gas stations in the 1920s and a bottle of “Mrs. Winslow’s Soothing Syrup,” which was used to relieve babies’ teething pain in the mid-to-late-1800s.
The $3.3 million project, funded through DOTD’s Transportation Enhancement Program, began in March 2008 and was completed in November 2008. The contractor for the project was Progressive Construction Co.