MTC Projects Score in Statewide Tranny Awards | News

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MTC Projects Score in Statewide Tranny Awards

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

MTC and its Bay Area Toll Authority (BATA) branch received the Project of the Year award for the new Benicia-Martinez Bridge from the California Transportation Foundation (CTF) in the annual statewide Tranny Awards competition.

CTF also bestowed top honors to two other projects sponsored by MTC/BATA at the Tranny Awards ceremony today in Sacramento: a demonstration transit information kiosk at the Embarcadero BART/Muni station in San Francisco, and the outreach effort surrounding the MacArthur Maze disaster and reconstruction in the spring of 2007.

Opening in August 2007, the new second span of the Benicia-Martinez Bridge carries northbound traffic along the Interstate 680 corridor. “This new $1.2 billion, one-mile bridge crossing the Carquinez Strait hides incredible complexity in its sleek elegance,” the awards committee noted in its program. Among the longest cast-in-place balanced cantilever segment bridges built in seismic terrain, the structure embodies engineering breakthroughs in the form of new methods to cure lightweight concrete and a bubble curtain to shield migrating fish from pile-driving shock waves.

The new span also incorporates a striking new toll plaza that is as high-tech as it looks: It is the first bridge in California to offer open-road tolling, which allows cars bearing FasTrak® transponders to pass through at highway speeds. Freeway backups in the vicinity of the bridge have evaporated as a result of the innovation.

“I don’t know of a single project that has had as great an impact on the people of Solano County,” said MTC Commissioner Jim Spering, who also is a Solano County supervisor. “Commuters in my county are saving an average of 40 minutes per trip, every day.” Spering noted the project was “an incredible team effort”; in addition to honoring BATA, the Foundation cited Kiewit Pacific Company, T.Y. Lin International, CH2M Hill, FCI Constructors, Caltrans District 4 and Earth Mechanics. The Benicia-Martinez Bridge Open-Road Tolling aspect itself also was a finalist for the Traffic Operations Program of the Year.

Billed as a “Traveler’s aid for the video age,”the project at the Embarcadero BART/Muni station turned an underutilized newspaper stand at one of the region’s busiest transit crossroads into a multiuse, high-tech transit information kiosk. Recognized as the Community Awareness Program of the Year, it features video screens with real-time departure information and vignettes promoting regional transit projects, current transit maps and schedules, and knowledgeable staff who guide travelers and sell transit tickets passes for eight systems along with TransLink® fare cards. MTC provides the funding and manages the contract for the project, which is also sponsored by BART and S.F. Muni.

The ABCs of MTC” was a finalist in the Community Awareness Program category. The handy guide takes a fresh approach to demystifying transportation policymaking, and is helping citizens participate more fully in the decision-making process in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The public information effort surrounding the MacArthur Maze disaster — in which a fiery taker truck accident caused a key link in this region’s busiest interchange to melt onto the roadway below — was highlighted as the Public Outreach Program of the Year. MTC worked with Caltrans and Bay Area transit operators to mobilize the emergency response, including free rides across all Bay Area bus, rail and ferry systems the first Monday after the weekend incident. The promotion was a resounding success, with BART experiencing record ridership and highway gridlock averted. To keep the transit momentum going and traffic moving freely, MTC launched an information blitz to publicize commute alternatives through its 511.org traveler information Web site and phone line.

Another joint MTC/BATA-Caltrans project, thepublic information campaign for the 2007 Labor Day weekend closure of the Bay Bridge, was afinalist in the Outreach Program category as well. The $1 million effort effectively informed millions of Californians up and down the state about the closure as well as alternate routes and transit options. The project that triggered the closure — the retrofit by replacement of a chunk of the upper deck of the Bay Bridge (with the new piece rolled into place over Labor Day weekend) — was recognized as Major Structure Project of the Year, with special recognition for Caltrans District 4 and C.C. Myers, Inc. 
— Brenda Kahn

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