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The California and Florida departments of transportation have earned the Grand Prize and People's Choice awards in the 2014 America's Transportation Awards competition, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation (AASHTO) announced last week.A record 73 transportation projects from 36 states and the District of Columbia were nominated in the seventh annual competition. The 10 projects that received the highest number of points in four regional competitions were in the running for the top prizes announced at AASHTO's annual meeting last week, which was held in Charlotte, N.C.The California Department of Transportation's (Caltrans) San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge east span project received the Grand Prize. The $6.3 billion project involved the replacement of an 80-year old structure with a new bridge featuring advanced seismic response technology. The bridge is designed to accommodate future expansions of light rail and other transportation modes.The Florida Department of Transportation's (FDOT) Mathews Bridge Impact and Emergency Response Project, which earned more than 300,000 votes cast online, was chosen as the People's Choice Award winner. In September 2013, a vessel collided with the Mathews Bridge, causing $3.8 million in damage to the structure. FDOT's emergency repair plan reopened the vital Jacksonville crossing to vehicle traffic only 33 days after the collision and 12 days ahead of schedule, AASHTO officials said.The Grand Prize and People's Choice award winners were presented with $10,000 cash prizes to be used to support a charity or transportation-related scholarship program of the agencies' choosing."There were many projects worthy of recognition in this year's competition. But the Caltrans and FDOT projects exemplify the best of the best," said AASHTO Executive Director Bud Wright. "Their use of innovation and creative problem-solving improved the lives of the nearby communities and their economies. We sincerely tip our hats to all the hard working professionals who helped make these projects a reality."
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