In the March 12, 2012, edition of ENR Southeast, the publication will be highlighting the achievements of this year's "Owner of the Year." And this year, the entity chosen for this designation is the North Carolina Dept. of Transportation.

The choice was made by a vote of ENR's regional editors around the country, based upon information gathered by myself, the ENR Southeast editor. (I did not vote.) The selection was based upon achievements during 2011. 

NCDOT had several noteworthy accomplishments during the previous year. The agency moved forward on more than $300 million worth of contracts making up the Charlotte Interstate 485 Outer Loop/Interstate 85 Widening Project--most of which are likely to end up on the coming Top Starts ranking, which is a factor in the selection of the "Owner of the Year."

The agency also signed two notable design-build contracts during 2011: a $367.7-million contract for the 19.7-mile Monroe Connector/Bypass project near Charlotte, and a $215.7-million Bonner Bridge replacement in the Outer Banks. Both contracts should start construction in 2012.

Another factor considered by the editors was the agency's response to Hurricane Irene, which caused significant damage to State Route 12, which connects the Outer Banks to the state's mainland, and was breached in several places. NCDOT responded fairly quickly, hiring Mabey Bridge & Shore to construct a temporary bridge and get the connection to the Outer Banks restored in just about three weeks.

Moreover, the department did a nice job of utilizing social media to keep the public informed about the progress they were making, with a frequently updated gallery of photos of the damage and the latest repairs.

Finally, in December, the North Carolina Turnpike Authority, a division of NCDOT, opened up the first phase of the $1-billion Triangle Expressway in the Raleigh-Durham area. The toll road features completely open-road tolling.

The March 12 edition of ENR Southeast will feature much more information and perspective about the North Carolina DOT's recent accomplishments.