Henry Grabar is a staff writer for Slate’s Moneybox and a former fellow at CityLab. He lives in New York.
Guess what kinds of projects the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials decided to honor this year?
Voting began today for America's Transportation Award, the annual infrastructure competition organized by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO). So what sort of offerings have made the cut? Pittsburgh's new, free section of a subway line? New York City's bike lanes? Dallas' new freeway-capping downtown park? The suspense is killing me...
Wrong and wrong again! All ten projects that AASHTO selected for the final round are highways. And as Angie Schmidt at Streetsblog points out, the success or failure of some of them -- Maryland's Intercounty Connector and St. Louis' I-270 project in particular -- remain up for debate.
Part of the problem is that nearly all of the selections are praised for efficiency and low cost of construction, two things which aren't usually associated with ambitious, innovative infrastructure projects. But having accepted the constraints of this selection, we found a bright spot -- Virginia is up for its use of "pavement recycling" in repairs to I-81, which sounds cool.
So we'll put our money on VA, and hope that the votes don't go to the Silver State, where the "Nevada Department of Transportation widened a northbound 3.2 mile stretch of US 395 near I-80 in Reno to fix the congestion problem that plagued 150,000 commuters each day. The $31.5 million project was completed five months ahead of schedule."
If widening an interstate highway in a city is the best transportation project in America, well, then, I'm going home.
Top image courtesy of Scot63US.