Omaha, Neb. — The Colorado chapter of WTS International recognized HDR in two categories at its annual awards luncheon. The I-70 Mountain Express Lane has been named Large Innovative Transportation Solution of the Year, with emphasis on the leadership of Tammy Heffron, Laycee Kolkman, and Gina McAfee. And HDR’s Global Transport Development Director Rick Pilgrim will be honored as this year’s Man of the Year.

Both the project and Pilgrim are now eligible for WTS International’s top awards, which will be announced at the organization’s international conference in May.

Large Innovative Transportation Solution of the Year

The I-70 Mountain Express Lane opened in mid-December 2015. The 13-mile, eastbound lane, created by hardening an existing shoulder, has demonstrably reduced impacts of heavy traffic on businesses and residences in mountain communities. HDR provided planning, design and construction-support services to the Colorado Department of Transportation.

Colorado Department of Transportation reported that the new lane captured 82,600 vehicles, or 8 percent of traffic, in its first summer season, and contributed to a 38 percent decrease in travel time in the general purpose lanes.

“This was as high-stakes a project as I’ve worked on,” said Steve Long, HDR project manager. “Tammy, Gina and Laycee handled the challenge masterfully.”

Tammy Heffron, HDR’s Central Region bridge leader, served as lead design engineer. “Her fluency in technical details was equaled by her understanding of the big picture,” Long said. In spring 2014, early in the design phase, Colorado’s governor and CDOT promised the public that construction would begin in just a few months. Heffron led a multi-disciplinary team of planners and engineers through the construction manager/general contractor alternative delivery method to prepare five design packages and make good on that promise.

Gina McAfee, environmental planning program manager, led environmental studies and permitting. McAfee has built a storied career on her ability to understand and advocate for the needs of the natural environment and surrounding communities while moving projects efficiently through the planning stages. Those skills were particularly important on the I-70 Mountain Express Lane. Her impact can be seen through the project’s harmony with its surroundings. It incorporates elements such as improved bike lanes, a revamped Water Wheel Park and strategic retaining walls to limit impacts to fishing and rafting along Clear Creek.

Kolkman, highway lead, led traffic engineering. She and her traffic-engineering team helped achieve efficiency through creative use of technologies such as Active Traffic Management and Dynamic Pricing.

Man of the Year

The WTS-Colorado Man of the Year award category was introduced in 2016 to recognize men who have made exceptional efforts to “attract, retain, and advance women in transportation.”

For nearly 40 years, Rick Pilgrim has contributed to transformative projects in the western United States, including the US 36 environmental impact statement, FasTracks, and the Central Platte Valley Light Rail design. He also served 10 years as the mayor of the town of Bow Mar, Colo.

Throughout his career, Pilgrim has directly mentored industry leaders, including McAfee, Nadine Lee and Jane Boand. He has pushed organizations to provide equal opportunities in training and career advancement to women, and helped secure support for WTS expansion in Colorado.

“Rick’s ongoing commitment to WTS, not only in Colorado but at the national level, is indicative of his commitment to advancing the reputation and credibility of women in transportation,” McAfee said. “Rick is a fundamentally fair, open and inclusive person. He genuinely cares deeply about other people, is a great listener and always seeks to help others reach their potential.”