"This is a multimodal state for which other infrastructure—railroads, the Mississippi River, ports—are just as important as roads," Basilica says. "It's a unique place in America now even more so given recent increases in oil and gas activity."

As such, what funds exist must be allocated among various modes as efficiently as possible.

"There are a lot of mouths to feed," Basilica says. "That's why we strive to be a trusted agent in partnering with agencies and assisting them with their most complex problems."

Few efforts illustrate such relationships better than the P2P program, a coordinated effort among federal, state and local agencies to rehabilitate, restore and enhance more than 60 southern Louisiana roadway segments damaged by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

HNTB plays a multifaceted role in P2P, providing program administration, preliminary engineering and construction engineering and inspection. What most impresses Jeff Burst, LaDOTD project management division chief, is the firm's ability to solve problems, such as expediting two five-street repair projects in the New Orleans French Quarter in 2012.

"This area already is challenging because of high traffic and varying access requirements among residents and businesses," says Burst. "We also had an upcoming Super Bowl, so the mayor wanted the projects completed before then, which gave us just five months."

HNTB assumed responsibility for executing the two projects, completing them about a month ahead of schedule. "To achieve full collaboration among everyone in that area in a compressed time frame was big," Burst says. "That's typical of how they've handled business."

Along with helping advance restoration of Louisiana's infrastructure, the P2P program's success is evidenced by its emergence as a model for post-disaster recovery efforts in other areas. For example, the transportation departments for New York state and New York City called on Burst and HNTB to map their recovery efforts following Superstorm Sandy in 2012.

"We helped them with all aspects of project management and implementation, from specific processes for getting federal disaster funding to collaborating with community agencies that typically don't report to or work with each other," Burst says.

Transportation-oriented firms such as HNTB will need to continue honing their creative edge as days of waning federal funding give way to environments in which sound planning and technical and administrative acumen are paramount, executives say.