“In addressing the transportation challenges of today and tomorrow, state DOTs demonstrate a strong determination to bring innovative solutions to their communities,” said Jim Tymon, Executive Director of AASHTO. “The America’s Transportation Awards program serves as a testament to their endeavors, and I am excited to kick off the regional awards with WASHTO’s pioneering projects. These projects play a vital role in improving safety, enhancing mobility, and revitalizing transportation resources for drivers, bicyclists, pedestrians, and transit customers alike.”
Twenty projects in the Western Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (WASHTO) region were nominated by state departments of transportation for this year’s competition. The following two projects in the Texas Contractor area were winners of regional America’s Transportation Awards.
In 2019, TxDOT identified a vacant former maintenance yard that could serve as a campsite for people experiencing homelessness. TxDOT converted the yard into a campsite by providing basic amenities such as water and electricity. The Texas Department of Emergency Management assigned camping spaces and distributed essential supplies, and the Texas Department of Public Safety ensured security and safety measures. Residents were allowed to bring personal belongings, including pets, and tents were provided for those without shelter.
In 2020, The Other Ones Foundation — a nonprofit organization with a focus on humanitarian aid, case management, and employment opportunities — stepped in to serve as the community service coordinator for the campsite, known as Esperanza community. The organization managed daily operations, introduced facilities like showers and laundry, and collaborated with donors and the local community to build housing structures. The IAH program helped over 130 individuals successfully transition to permanent housing, with improvements seen in their overall health and employability.
Throughout the project, TxDOT actively engaged with the community, deploying an array of communication tools to keep travelers informed about the construction process and safety measures. This communication strategy involved in-person meetings, live stream cameras, a continuously updated project website, automated emails, and text alerts.
The My35 Waco 4B Construction project has provided improved mobility and safety along the I-35 corridor, benefiting both commercial freight and personal vehicles. The enhancements introduced through this initiative have not only made travel more accessible but have also contributed to the area's tourism potential.