PALM DESERT, CALIF. — The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), AAA, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce announced that the I-35W Bridge in Minneapolis was selected as the 2009 America’s Transportation Awards Grand Prize winner. Florida Department of Transportation’s (FDOT) 95 Express Miami Project won the People’s Choice Award. The awards were presented at the AASHTO Annual Meeting.

The competition recognizes outstanding transportation projects in three categories: On Time, On Budget, and Innovative Management. The 10 projects that scored the highest during four regional contests competed for both the Grand Prize and the People’s Choice Award.

In the aftermath of the catastrophic Aug. 1, 2007, collapse of the I-35W bridge over the Mississippi river in downtown Minneapolis, the Minnesota Department of Transportation implemented a plan to detour 140,000 vehicles, address public concerns, and begin immediate construction of the new $234 million replacement bridge. The massive design-build project — which included 10 lanes for traffic, several local side streets, and interchanges — was completed in 13 and half months; three months ahead of schedule.

"This is truly symbolic of triumph over tragedy," said John Horsley, AASHTO executive director. "We know how difficult the past two years have been for the citizens of the entire state, but this outstanding project can be seen as a victory for citizens and a legacy for the loved ones lost."

More than 200,000 online votes helped decide this year’s People’s Choice Award winner. FDOT’s 95 Express Miami Project is a $62.9 million High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes project.

The winners will receive a $10,000 cash award to be used by the winning transportation department to support the charity or academic scholarship program of its choice.

Fifty projects were entered in this year’s America’s Transportation Awards competition. Complete details about each of these projects are included in “Smart Solutions: 50 Ways America Just Got Better,” a new report released by AASHTO and available at