Transportation design and construction firms and public agencies from Oregon to New York were recognized for “excellence in community relations and public education” during the ARTBA Transportation Development Foundation’s 2014 PRIDE Awards lunch, held June 10 in the Nation’s Capital.
Established in 1999, the PRIDE Awards honor outstanding programs in two categories that enhance the image of the transportation design and construction industry.
Community Relations: Private Sector
First Place: Cintra, NTE Mobility Partners, Ferrovial Agroman, and Bluebonnet Contractors: “North Tarrant Express/NMSI Partnership for STEM Education”
With a commitment to “give back to the community in which it is doing business,” the North Tarrant Express (NTE) team—consisting of Cintra, NTE Mobility Partners, Ferrovial Agroman, and Bluebonnet Contractors—partnered with the “National Math and Science Initiative” to help establish advanced placement (AP) math and science programs in Haltom High School near Fort Worth, Texas, which is along the NTE highway corridor. Through a five-year grant program, NTE is encouraging students in underserved schools to take college-level courses in preparation for careers in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields and provides teacher training. Along with rigorous instruction from AP teachers, NTE volunteers dedicated many hours of time with the students highlighting future industry career opportunities at breakfast roundtable events and construction site field tours. In the first three years, the high school has recorded double- and triple-digit increases in the number of students enrolled in AP programs and the number of qualifying scores achieved.
Second Place: Tilcon New York Inc.: “Tilcon’s Community Relations Program”
Commitment to the community is part of a year-round corporate culture at Tilcon New York, Inc., a division of Oldcastle Materials, Inc. The firm donates to a New Jersey pantry, Marine Toys for Tots, The American Heart Association and numerous local museums and schools. It donated heavy construction equipment for a local elementary school’s Christmas Parade, provided arts and crafts to another school in celebration of Earth Day, and participated in trash clean-up days along the Hudson River. Tilcon also holds open houses and plant tours for more than 3,000 visitors at a time, educating the public, students and the media about the important role aggregates miming plays in today’s society.
Community Relations: Public Sector
First Place: Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT), CAWOOD: “Bundle 220, Interstate 5: Willamette River Bridge”
ODOT and public relations firm CAWOOD took a collaborative approach to community engagement during replacement of the Interstate 5 Willamette River Bridge. Early on, the team formed a community advisory group to help select the bridge’s overall design theme. After two weekend workshops with 50 artists and architects and 857 survey responses, the bridge and its surrounding parks were designed to reflect the area’s Native American history and provide the “graceful,” distinctive,” and unique” appeal local residents desired. To keep residents up-to-date during construction, the team also hosted more than 30 project site tours and conducted 20 presentations with audiences ranging from elementary school students to retirement groups. A blog with construction updates, photos and a “virtual open house” received nearly 100,000 hits during the project’s three-and-half years.
Public-Media Relations/Education: Private Sector
First Place: Contractors Association of West Virginia (CAWV): “Hard at Work” License Plates
The license plates program, started in 2012, is an extension of a larger “Hard at Work” campaign aimed at raising the visibility of contractors in West Virginia, renewing industry pride, improving public perception of the industry and encouraging students to consider careers in construction. Since the plate design was approved and made available by the West Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles, more than 300 vehicles have been fitted with the “Hard at Work” plates. CAWV utilized traditional media, social media, and one-on-one contacts, to promote the program to its members and businesses. At the official launch and dedication ceremony, 16 television news crews provided media coverage to remind the public that all across West Virginia, contractors are “Hard at Work” on construction projects that are enhancing their lives.
Second Place: Communication Infrastructure Group, Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) and Kiewit Construction: “US 34 Flood Repair Project”
US 34, in Larimer County connecting Colorado communities Loveland and Estes Park, was severely damaged when flood waters rushed through the Big Thompson Canyon in September 2013. With 18 miles of impassable highway, public relations firm Communication Infrastructure Group (CIG) was tasked by CDOT and Kiewit Construction with educating the public on reconstruction efforts. CIG’s public outreach included town hall meetings, establishing a 24 hour information hotline, providing construction updates via Twitter and Facebook, and distributing flyers and weekly emails to residents and businesses. The team’s digital and print media efforts generated 500,000 impressions and in-person communications resulted in 25,000 interactions with the public.
Third Place: AGL Constructors and Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT): “35Express”
The “35Express” project between Denton and Dallas Counties is undergoing a $1.4 billion widening and reconstruction effort affecting over 150,000 residents and 3,000 businesses in North Texas. To build public support, AGL Constructors—a joint venture between Archer Western, Granite and Lane Construction companies—established an aggressive public outreach campaign. In the first eight months the team led more than 70 presentations reaching over 1,200 stakeholders and performed “boots on the ground outreach” to about 120 businesses. They also created a website, e-Newsletter and Facebook and Twitter accounts that have received over 4,000 visits, 2,000 subscribers, 2,000 likes and 1,500 followers, respectively. The aggressive social media campaign helps educate drivers on lane closures, accidents and tips for safe driving within the construction zone.
Public-Media Relations/Education: Public Sector
First Place: District Department of Transportation (DDOT), HNTB Corporation and Skanska Facchina, Joint Venture: “11th Street Bridge Project Construction Management Training Program”
The “11th Street Bridge Project Construction Management Training Program,” implemented in 2013, was described in “The Washington Post” as an “innovative training program that puts some of the city’s most disadvantaged adults on the engineering side of a construction job site.” Its unique field service and classroom instructional curriculum provides minorities, women and other D.C. residents interested in the highway construction industry with an opportunity to test for certifications in concrete, soils and aggregate compaction, safety and flagging. The program is taught by senior inspectors, engineers and construction managers from the 11th Street Bridge Project. After three successful classes, 19 of the 21 graduates have found employment within the construction industry.