I-5/State Route 512 Interchange Project Takes Risk – and Award – in Addressing Congestion

“Four transportation projects and programs have been recognized for Making a Difference by the Washington Quality Initiative, a partnership of public and private transportation organizations.The Washington State Department of Transportation Traffic Conditions website, Aurora Avenue North (SR 99) corridor study and Interstate 5/State Route 512 interchange safety improvement projects were recognized for excellence in the area of quality improvement.The WSDOT Traffic Conditions Website received the Partnering Award, which focuses on what organizations are doing to improve their performance and products and how they share those ideas with their counterparts in Washington’s highway industry. The Traffic Conditions website, which includes the Seattle and Tacoma traffic flow maps and cameras, provides travelers with real-time information.In 1998 the website expanded to include statewide information and visits to the Traveler Information website tripled – going from an average of 6,000 to 18,000 user sessions a day. A project to improve safety at the Interstate 5/State Route 512 interchange received the Risk Taking Award, which focuses on how teams are motivated to take intelligent and calculated risks to prove there is a better way.The project added the first triple left-turn freeway exit pattern in Washington, the result of WSDOT traffic engineers looking outside typical design solutions to develop a new, non-traditional method of solving a congestion problem that was causing a significant number of collisions at the southbound I-5 off-ramp to SR 512.WSDOT’s partnering with consulting engineering firms, construction industry representatives, colleges and federal, state and local agencies received the State Quality Initiative, which focuses on implementation of highway design, construction, maintenance and operations. It recognizes implementation of strategies to achieve better quality operations and highways.WSDOT’s partnering program addressed initiatives to improve the quality of the highways, recognize the importance of the motoring public, reduce impact of construction and recognize efforts to improve quality.WSDOT formed standing committees and teams with partners including the Association of General Contractors and Asphalt Paving Association of Washington. Shoreline’s Aurora Avenue North improvement project received the Breaking The Mold Award, which identifies champions of new ideas.To be eligible for an award, the accomplishments had to be related to a highway construction or maintenance project, activity, or operation program or activity completed during 1998-1999. They had to be exemplary in at least one of the four characteristics designated by the awards and endorsed by the WQI: – Measurement of quality end result/customer focus – Magnitude of risk taken – Number of people or entities involved – Short and long range impact on respective organization – Cost/time savingThe teams are going to the National Quality Initiative Steering Awards, to be presented at a ceremony during the NQI Workshop in Dallas this November.”