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MnDOT's $125 million make over of the I-494 and Hwy. 169 interchange in Eden Prairie is one of 10 across the country that's in the running for an American Transportation Award given out annually by the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials in concert with AAA and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The finalists were chosen from a field of 36 projects submitted by 24 state departments of transportation that cut congestion, provide greater mobility for citizens and improve safety. The projects that advanced to the final round received the most number of points during regional contests in each part of the country.

A panal of judges will select the grand prize winner. Motorists can vote through Oct. 2 for the People's Choice Award through AASHTO's web site. Both prizes come with a $10,000 grant, which the winning state or states departments of transportation must be donated to a charity or scholarship.

The 494/169 project completed last fall included building a new flyover bridges to carry traffic from I-494 to both north and soutbound Hwy. 169, eliminating traffic signals that often led to traffic jams on Hwy. 169, connecting frontage roads along Hwy. 169 and installing roundabouts.

The project was selected as a finalist for coming in under budget and for improving safety, AASHTO said.

Awards will be announced during the AASHTO's annual meeting in Denver on Oct. 20.

Top 10 finalists:

  1. California—Dumbarton Toll Bridge Seismic Retrofit Project: California Department of Transportation greatly improved safety through an earthquake-prone region by conducting a seismic retrofit on the Dumbarton Toll Bridge, utilized by more than 60,000 vehicles per day. The $62.3 million project was completed with a savings of $30 million to taxpayers.
  1. Georgia—I-285 & Ashford Dunwoody Diverging Diamond Interchange Project: Georgia Department of Transportation was able to cut down on commuting time for motorists and improve safety through the construction of a diverging diamond interchange in an area that experienced high collision and fatality rates. The $6 million project was completed a full month ahead of schedule.
  2. Idaho—U.S. 95, Sand Creek Byway Project: Idaho Department of Transportation's $112 million project increased pedestrian traffic and kept large trucks out of downtown Sandpoint by constructing a 2.1-mile byway. The project included not just the new roadway but bike and pedestrian paths, six bridges, and a retaining wall, all completed four months ahead of schedule.
  1. Indiana—I-465/Allisonville Road Interchange Reconstruction Project: Indiana Department of Transportation reduced delays for drivers near Indianapolis by reconstructing the I-465/Allisonville Road interchange, a $19 million project completed two months ahead of schedule.
  1. Massachusetts—MBTA Mobile Ticketing Project: Massachusetts Department of Transportation offered transit customers an easy and convenient way to purchase tickets for their rides with a new smartphone application. The project saved the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority nearly $70 million versus an extension of its subway smartcard solution.
  1. Minnesota—Highway 169/I-494 Interchange Reconstruction Project: Minnesota Department of Transportation cut down on congestion to keep the economy growing in the Minneapolis/St. Paul region by reconstructing the Highway 169/I-494 interchange. The $128 million project came in significantly under budget and improved safety for all drivers.
  1. Missouri—Safe and Sound Bridge Replacement Program: Safety was greatly improved statewide for drivers through the Missouri Department of Transportation's Safe and Sound Bridge Replacement Program, which improved more than 800 bridges across the state. The $685 million project was completed 14 months ahead of schedule, which cut down on detour time for drivers.
  1. North Carolina—Triangle Expressway Project: North Carolina Department of Transportation's $1 billion all-electronic tolling technology on the Triangle Expressway marked the first time the method had been used in the state, saving drivers from sitting in congestion at toll plazas. Within six weeks of opening the Customer Service Center, transponder sales surpassed six month sales targets.
  2. Rhode Island—Wickford Junction Station & Garage Project: Rhode Island Department of Transportation increased mobility for citizens of North Kingstown with the creation of a $24.9 million multi-modal transportation hub, including a new siding track, a parking garage, drop-off/pick-up area for cars and buses, bike parking, and car charging stations. The project was completed under budget.
  1. Utah—I-15 Corridor Expansion Project: This $1.725 billion project by Utah Department of Transportation to relieve congestion for those traveling to and from Salt Lake City used innovative scheduling and planning techniques to complete the highway expansion project two years ahead of schedule while saving taxpayers $260 million.