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Press Release

2020 Transportation Award Winners Focus on Environmental Sustainability, New Technologies, Mobility, and Development

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  September 3, 2020
CONTACT: Bill Cramer, Communications Director
bcramer@ibtta.org or 202-210-2962 (mobile)


International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association Announces 2020 Toll Excellence Award Winners from Around the Globe

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association (IBTTA) today announced the seven winners of its prestigious 2020 Toll Excellence Awards acknowledging industry leaders implementing transportation projects worldwide focusing on environmental sustainability, advancement of emerging technologies, easing mobility and alleviating congestion for drivers, and the development of new transportation systems in rapidly growing areas.  

“This year’s Toll Excellence Award winners have continued to set the bar higher for the transportation industry throughout the world,” said Samuel Johnson, Interim CEO of the Transportation Corridor Agencies and President of IBTTA.  “From investing in environmental sustainability efforts to be valued partners in their local communities to the creation of a high-tech testing center to further the development of emerging technologies, our members lead the way in transportation.” 

The seven award winners will make presentations at 11:00am ET on September 10th during IBTTA's Virtual 88th Annual Meeting and Exhibition, September 10 and 14-16, 2020.  One of the seven recipients will also be honored with the President’s Award for Excellence, the association’s highest achievement, during the Opening Session, Monday morning, September 14th.

“Toll authorities and industry partners demonstrate their continued leadership conceiving, developing and implementing programs and strategies that advance mobility, safety and efficiency for drivers around the world,” said David Machamer, Chair of IBTTA’s Toll Excellence Awards Committee and Assistant Executive Director, PIKEPASS and Toll Operations for the Oklahoma Turnpike. “Against historic, extraordinary circumstances this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, these award winners continue to find ways to break new ground that ultimately will mean safer, more reliable and better experiences for our customers, the driving public.” 

This year’s 2020 Toll Excellence Award recipients are:

•    Administration and Finance: North Texas Tollway Authority

•    Customer Service and Marketing Outreach: Washington State Department of Transportation

•    Social Responsibility: Illinois Tollway

•    Technology: Florida's Turnpike Enterprise (FTE)

•    Toll Operations, Engineering and Maintenance: E-470 Public Highway Authority

•    Private Sector Innovation Award: Egis 

•    Private Sector Innovation Award:  HNTB Corporation

** Backgrounder below provides a description of each award winner’s project/program **

The International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association (IBTTA) is the worldwide association for the owners and operators of toll facilities and the businesses that serve tolling. Founded in 1932, IBTTA has members in 21 countries on six continents. Through advocacy, thought leadership and education, members are implementing state-of-the-art, innovative user-based transportation financing solutions to address the critical infrastructure challenges of the 21st Century. For more information, visit www.ibtta.org or join us on Twitter @IBTTA or #TollRoads.

Each year, IBTTA presents the Toll Excellence Awards to highlight the very best projects, innovations, and solutions from the international tolling industry.  The awards encourage the industry to share and celebrate new ideas and emerging practices in six categories: Administration and Finance; Customer Service and Marketing Outreach; Social Responsibility; Technology; Toll Operations, Engineering and Maintenance; and Private Sector Innovation.  

For more information about the IBTTA Toll Excellence Awards, to interview Patrick Jones or any of the award recipients, please contact Bill Cramer, Communications Director, IBTTA at bcramer@ibtta.org or 202.210.2962.

Administration and Finance Award: North Texas Tollway Authority
Project Name: Strategic Refinancing Plan

The North Texas Tollway Authority (NTTA) was created in 1997 by the State of Texas to help address the transportation needs in the region. With this authority, NTTA issued a significant amount of debt, sometimes in unattractive market conditions to finance and construct essential projects. In evaluating the $9.5B debt portfolio, NTTA developed a Strategic Refinancing Plan ("Plan") to capitalize on the historically low interest rate environment in recent years. The Plan was designed as a multi-year approach to strategically and methodically refund eligible debt, flattening NTTA's escalating debt curve. To learn more about NTTA’s Strategic Refinancing Plan click here. 

Customer Service and Marketing Outreach Award:  Washington State Department of Transportation - Good To Go!
Project Name: Tolling in the SR 99 Tunnel under downtown Seattle

On November 9, 2019, the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) began tolling the SR 99 tunnel. WSDOT began tolling to repay $200 million in construction bonds borrowed to build the tunnel, and to fund the ongoing cost of operating and maintaining a safe facility. This funding is part of the $3.3 billion investment to replace the aging Alaskan Way Viaduct and rebuild SR 99 through Seattle.   

The SR 99 tunnel, which opened in Feb. 4, 2019, was constructed to replace the seismically vulnerable Alaskan Way Viaduct built on Seattle's waterfront. WSDOT decided to open the tunnel toll-free for several months during demolition of the existing viaduct to keep traffic and freight moving through Seattle. This also allowed for time to test the roadway toll equipment.  With several other major transportation projects occurring in Seattle at the same time, tolling had the capability to significantly affect how drivers get through the city. To minimize diversion from tolls and ensure drivers understood how tolling works, WSDOT developed and executed a plan to maximize outreach efforts, identify opportunities and risks, and facilitate coordination with project partners. You can learn more about the SR 99 Tunnel here.  WSDOT produced a 6½-minute YouTube video, complete with close-up action sequences and before-and-after photos on the demolition of the Alaskan Way Viaduct.

Social Responsibility Award: Illinois Tollway
Project Name: Recreational Trail Investments

The Illinois Tollway works with local communities, county forest preserve districts, regulatory agencies, and other environmental groups to provide funding to restore and enhance prairies, woodlands, wetlands, and waterways. The investments by the Illinois Tollway's in recreational trails of approximately 1,000 miles of county forest preserve trails is one of the unsung benefits provided to communities surrounding the 294-mile system of five toll roads in Northern Illinois.

The trails benefit hikers, bikers, runners, horseback riders, bird-watchers, cross-country skiers, snowmobilers, and other outdoor enthusiasts living in the Chicago region's urban and suburban environments. The trails frequently link the forest preserves to longer, regional, statewide, and multi-state trails. Bike trails also serve as an alternative transportation mode for some commuters, enhancing the regional transportation network.

As part of the Tollway's commitment to sustainability – from planning and design through construction, maintenance and operations – agency funds are invested in mitigation projects to offset the impacts of roadway construction on local and regional natural resources.

Last year, the Illinois Tollway began participating in the second phase of a large-scale project to help restore Spring Brook Creek, which runs through the St. James Farm Forest Preserve in DuPage County. The first phase, completed in 2015, reconfigured the creek to replicate a more natural, meaning stream. Phase Two of the project will improve habitat and water quality along approximately a 2-mile section of creek, creating better conditions for wildlife. The project also includes relocating the West Branch DuPage River Trail out of a floodplain, improving visitors' views of the surrounding prairies, wetlands, and woodlands. Restoration work on the second phase began in spring 2019 and is scheduled to be complete in 2021.

This project and other efforts are improving quality of life, enhancing the environment, and connecting people to nature. You can learn more here about the Tollway’s sustainability efforts

Technology Award: Florida's Turnpike Enterprise (FTE)
Project Name: SunTrax - Toll Technology Testing Center

SunTrax is a state-of-the-art facility being developed by Florida's Turnpike Enterprise (FTE) and the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) dedicated to the research, development, and testing of tolling and other emerging transportation technologies in safe and controlled environments.

Situated on 475 acres centrally located between Tampa and Orlando in Polk County, Florida, SunTrax is composed of a 2.25-mile-long oval test track around a 200-acre infield. The multi-lane track replicates typical Florida highway conditions, with a design speed of 70 mph.

SunTrax is being developed in two phases. The first phase of construction was completed in May 2019, and it included all the infrastructure needed for FTE to perform independent testing of both current and future toll technologies. This completed phase features the multi-lane oval track offering opportunities to test multiple technologies simultaneously. Also housed here is a LEED-Certified operations center featuring exceptional training and testing facilities with fiber-optic track connections.

On the multi-lane reversible track, there are four toll sites that mirror FTE's existing field sites, which can also be adapted to test equipment from different vendors in a variety of scenarios.

SunTrax provides unprecedented access for simulations, relieving the need to close active lanes. Truck platooning, autonomous vehicles and toll transactions have been successfully conducted. Connected vehicles and infrastructure testing is vital to deliver holistic mobility solutions for all citizens by improving driver, cyclist, and pedestrian safety.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, FTE, like many tolling entities, faced some challenging issues. On March 19, 2020, FTE removed cash toll collectors at plazas in order to ensure our staff and customers were as safe as possible during the initial outbreak of the pandemic. The decision was made to collect cash tolls via a "toll by plate" technology. At the same time, SunTrax played a key role in tolls testing of all-electronic tolling equipment by multiple vendors at the tolls test track. The tolls testing teams comprised of vendors, General Engineering Consultant (GEC) staff, and FDOT staff all practiced the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines on social distancing, hand washing, face coverings and gloves when performing tests on the track or analyzing the data in the operations room. FTE is happy to report that there were no incidents of staff contracting COVID-19 during this increased testing period. As the State of Florida began to safely reopen, FTE made the decision to place the cash collectors back in the toll booths as of June 1, 2020. FTE continues to monitor the COVID-19 situation closely and follows the lead of Governor Ron DeSantis on this issue.

FTE has developed a robust and dynamic website (suntraxfl.com) in order to keep the tolling and automotive technology community updated with the latest news from SunTrax. The website shows photos and renderings of the facility and live feeds of the ongoing Phase 2 construction.

Phase 2 of the SunTrax program will develop the 200-acre infield inside the oval track into a center for the development of connected and automated vehicle (CAV) technologies. SunTrax is one of only a few facilities in the world designed from the ground up specifically for CAV testing.

As a proving ground that is open for lease by private companies, the facility also addresses all the following key operational considerations:
• Safety of all users, visitors, and staff
• User needs for workshop spaces, specialty test equipment, data storage, communications, food service, etc.
• Management of user access between different areas and test sectors
• Overall site security and user privacy considerations
• Emergency services management

Learn more about SunTrax here.

Toll Operations, Engineering & Maintenance Award: E-470 Public Highway Authority
Project Name: E-470's Proactive Traffic Management Program

E-470 to the rescue! On March 13, 2019, the Denver Metro Area experienced an extreme weather event – a bomb cyclone. The storm produced hurricane-strength winds up to 80 miles per hour and more than 13 inches of snowfall in less than 24 hours. These conditions provided motorists and Road Management staff with less than one quarter-mile visibility and drifts along the roadway that topped out at several feet deep. Approximately 200,000 people were left without power throughout various periods of the day and thousands of motorists were stranded. 

That's where E-470 stepped in. Not only did E-470 keep the road open, become a housing shelter for stranded motorists, but also used this opportunity to test the effectiveness of its recently implemented Proactive Traffic Management Program. This program is run by E-470's Traffic Management Center (TMC). The TMC is the hub of all traffic management systems where information concerning traffic operations is collected and analyzed to make modifications to each system as necessary, including coordinating responses to events in real-time. This allows E-470 to provide timely information to motorists on social media and via our variable message signs. Integration with 52 CCTVs that cover the entire tollway offer expanded surveillance and improved incident response and management, which was key to our extreme weather response in March 2019.

Throughout the entire storm, the TMC, Roadside Assistance staff, maintenance team and law enforcement went above and beyond typical services while enduring white-out winter conditions. With incidents and requests for service flying in at an overwhelming pace, the entire Road Management team persisted throughout the storm to provide outstanding customer service to law enforcement, E-470 management and the travelling public. You can learn more here. 

Private Sector Innovation Award: Egis
Project Name: Egis Exploitation Aquitaine, A63 Motorway, France

Egis, with the support of the Concessionaire Atlandes, has developed an innovative Virtual Reality (VR) Training program to teach and certify safety patrollers to perform incident management for toll bridges, tunnels, and highways while completely eliminating the risk and danger of on-site emergency instruction to trainers and students. In collaboration with Immersive Factory, a start-up specializing in the design of virtual training, we developed a series of 15-minute learning modules to train motorway patrollers using virtual reality technology on the A63 Motorway, a 65-mile toll road between Bordeaux, France, and Spain.

The job of patroller is extremely dangerous. In France, an average of 10 patroller vehicles are hit per month while the patrollers are securing an event, leading to 16 injured patrollers and one death. And, training in this environment is even more dangerous. On-site training is also very time-consuming and expensive; and the ability to replicate many different event types and conditions is severely limited. Egis VR Training has changed all of that.

The VR Training is a total immersion in the working environment. The surrounding conditions such as traffic noise, vehicle speed and weather events are reproduced in very realistic detail – allowing the student to experience a variety of real-world emergencies in real-time.

With the new VR Training, A63 patrollers can be safely trained and tested in motorway safety and callout procedures by simply donning a virtual reality headset and using the handheld controls.

Every activity is simulated within the VR environment. From behind the wheel of their virtual safety vehicle, the patroller encounters a random incident such as a broken-down vehicle, an object in the middle of the road or a serious accident causing injuries or involving hazardous materials. As in real-life, the patroller then has only a few seconds to make their decisions for dealing with the emergency. Where should I park my van? What warning lights, signs and markings should I install – and where should them located? And, can I best protect myself and those involved in the incident?

The virtual reality training module is now used as part of an awareness-raising exercise aimed at all other employees in our company to help them gain a better understanding of the job of the patroller which fosters improved communication between our various project teams. And, finally, based on the great feed-back received on our in-house awareness program, we will be using our VR Training as part of a communication campaigns to teach customers about safety procedures on the motorway. You can learn more about the Virtual Reality Training here.

PRIVATE SECTOR INNOVATION:  HNTB Corporation
Project Name: Northwest Corridor Express Lanes

Recognized as the No. 1 project on the 2018 Roads & Bridges Top 10 Roads list, the Northwest Corridor (NWC) Express Lanes represents the largest single investment in Georgia’s transportation infrastructure and one of the most transformative projects in state history. Acknowledged as the most innovative and complex express lanes project in the country due to being a fully reversible system spanning across two counties and two interstates, as well as a dual-agency endeavor. These Express Lanes not only improve traffic flow, they have provided enhanced transit opportunities, boosted mobility, and driven economic development.

The project extends along I-75 and I-575 in Cobb and Cherokee Counties, northwest of the city of Atlanta. This 29.7-mile reversible tolled system (traveling southbound toward Atlanta in the morning commute and northbound in the evening) included the design of four new Express Lane access interchanges on I-75, 14 slip ramp access points along I-75 and I-575, and 39 bridges with lengths totaling approximately 27,500 LF and deck area totaling 1.02 million SF. 

The project was delivered through a P3 and DBF model that ensured an on-time and on-budget delivery. The DBF model was streamlined to include less private financing and greater control for the state.

HNTB Corporation served as the Program Management Consultant (PMC) for the project, which was led by Georgia Department of Transportation’s (Georgia DOT) Office of Innovative Delivery (OID) and is operated by the State Road and Tollway Authority (SRTA). You can learn more about Georgia’s Northwest Corridor Express Lanes here.


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