At the annual meeting of the Southeastern Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (SASHTO) this week, the Commonwealth of Virginia was recognized with two America’s Transportation Awards from SASHTO’s 12th annual regional competition. SASHTO represents fourteen departments of transportation across the southeastern United States.
The Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT) and the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) won the award in the Quality of Life/Community Development category for their collaborative effort to fund and construct The Pulse, a bus rapid transit system in the City of Richmond. VDOT also was honored with an award in the Operations Excellence category for its innovative towing program, which incentivizes tow companies to clear complex commercial vehicle crashes from major highways as quickly and safely as possible.
“We are honored to be recognized by our national peers for innovative solutions that improve quality of life and expand access to economic opportunity,” said Shannon Valentine, Secretary of Transportation. “The work our team has accomplished is changing lives and transforming communities.”
With partnership from the Greater Richmond Transit Company (GRTC), the Federal Transit Administration, the City of Richmond, Henrico County, and DRPT, the state-of-the-art Pulse system was constructed by VDOT in only 18 months within the existing right-of-way along a 7.6-mile corridor of U.S. Route 250 in the City of Richmond and Henrico County. It features two bus-only lanes, 26 real-time connected stations, environmentally-friendly transit vehicles, and a priority traffic signaling system to ensure true bus rapid transit. Additionally, the Commonwealth-funded a system-wide bus network redesign that feeds into the corridor served by The Pulse. Since its launch in 2018, The Pulse continues to exceed ridership expectations. The bus rapid transit service, combined with the redesign of the GRTC network, have led to an overall transit ridership increase of 18%.
“The Pulse is an example of a creative transportation solution that is providing new mobility options and improving the transportation system for the entire region,” said Jennifer Mitchell, DRPT Director. “DRPT is proud to have been a part of this amazing team from start to finish.”
VDOT Commissioner Stephen C. Brich added, “We are dedicated to our roles in building and operating a world-class transportation system that serves as the foundation for Virginia’s economy and quality of life. The SASHTO awards serve as reminders that each of our initiatives and projects can make positive impacts in the communities we serve.”
“This recognition is very well deserved,” said Gary Armstrong, GRTC Board Chairman. “The hard work of DRPT and VDOT was evident throughout the design and construction of the system, and DRPT’s dedication to successfully implementing a state-of-the-art BRT system was front and center from application through the award of the TIGER grant.”
As the recipient of the two awards, Virginia will now be eligible to compete for the national award, presented by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) at its annual meeting in October.