Sand Creek Byway in tight horse race for $10,000 national prize

What began as a 10-horse race for people’s choice honors has dwindled to three front runners and seven also-rans. A voting blitz in the final week could send Idaho into the winner’s circle.

Voting for the America’s Transportation Award and purse of $10,000 rounded the final corner and will head into the home stretch next week. Idaho’s heralded highway construction project in Sandpoint – the Sand Creek Byway – recently was selected as one of the top 10 construction projects in the country.

The public will determine the winning people's choice award and the accompanying $10,000 grant. Idaho’s project is running neck-and-neck with California’s Dumbarton Toll Bridge Seismic Retrofit. The projects were separated by about 2,000 votes last week. Both are chasing Missouri’s Safe and Sound Bridge Improvement Program.

Tabulations announced Thursday by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) indicate Missouri leads the popular vote with 16,899. Sand Creek is second with 14,757, and California is just off the pace with 14,154.

To vote for Sand Creek on the web go to and select “Vote Now” on the right side of the page. Sand Creek is the third option on the ballot. Individuals may cast 10 votes daily through Oct. 2.

The Bonner County Area Transportation Team chose North Idaho Bikeways as the beneficiary of the people’s choice prize if Sand Creek wins the national competition. The nonprofit Bonner's County corporation was created in 1995 to establish a network of bike and pedestrian trails connecting Sandpoint with its neighboring communities.

In the equivalent of a presidential Electoral College vote, judges could choose Idaho’s project for the grand prize independently of the people’s choice honor. The grand prize also carries a $10,000 award. Winners of both contests will be announced at AASHTO’s annual meeting Oct. 20, in Denver.

In its eighth year, the America’s Transportation Award recognizes the best projects in the country in three categories: completion ahead of schedule, completion under budget and the best use of innovation. Sand Creek was chosen for finishing earlier than scheduled.

AASHTO, AAA and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce sponsor the contest.

“The 10 projects competing for top honors have made incredible impacts on their communities,” said Bud Wright, AASHTO executive director. “The America’s Transportation Awards competition was created to highlight all that our state transportation departments do each day to deliver quality, impactful transportation projects ahead of schedule, under their projected budgets, and through exceptional innovation. We are very proud of these state DOTs and their outstanding projects.”

Twenty-four states entered a collective 36 projects in the national competition. The 10 finalists received the highest number of overall points during four regional AASHTO meetings this summer, representing each part of the country. The Sand Creek Byway emerged from the Western Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (WASHTO) competition.

Published 9-20-13