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FHWA and Roadway Safety Foundation Honor Minnesota DOT Safety Project

ST. PAUL, MN — Ten highway safety projects, representing the best of the nation’s roadway safety practices, were recently honored with National Roadway Safety Awards at a Capitol Hill ceremony. In the Western Builder area, a Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) project installing more than 80 “J-turn” intersections received one of the awards.

The awards were presented by the leadership of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Roadway Safety Foundation (RSF), which jointly sponsor the competition. Begun in 1999, the biennial National Roadway Safety Awards honor initiatives that improve roadway safety at the state and local level.

“The problem-solving creativity and dedication shown by every one of the award winners and honorees will save countless lives — using a data driven approach and practices that are proven to reduce crashes,” said Federal Highway Administrator Shailen Bhatt. “The 2023 award winners demonstrate a strong commitment to moving the United States toward zero deaths and serious injuries on our nation’s roadways, and we are proud to applaud their efforts.”

The winning MnDOT project installed more than 80 “J-turn” intersections since 2010, mostly on divided rural highways. A 2021 evaluation found a 69 percent reduction in fatal and serious injury crashes due to the addition of the J-turns. J-turns are used on four-lane divided highways where intersecting roads have too little traffic to require a traffic light.

Much of the honorees’ work began amid a nationwide spike in vehicular crashes during the pandemic, when U.S. roadway fatalities rose 7.3 percent in 2020 and a further 10.1 percent in 2021 before holding steady at a high level in 2022 (-0.3 percent). Early estimates for the first half of 2023 show crash fatalities declined slightly but remain at levels not seen since the mid-2000s. Between January and June, fatalities nationwide declined by an estimated 3.3 percent, compared with the first six months of 2022, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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“The stubbornly elevated fatality numbers underscore the urgent need for innovations like the National Roadway Safety Award honorees’ projects,” said Roadway Safety Foundation Executive Director Bruce Hamilton. “With several initiatives already showing major reductions in fatalities, injuries, and crashes, today’s honorees are shining a bright light on the path to safer travel.”

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