A Missouri Department of Transportation project that built new bridges in each of Missouri’s 114 counties and was completed more than a year early and under its $685 million budget has been named one of the nation’s two best projects that were completed in 2012.

The Safe & Sound Bridge Improvement Program yesterday received the People’s Choice Award at the America’s Transportation Awards competition.

Safe & Sound replaced or repaired 802 of the state’s poorest bridges. Work began in 2009 and the final bridge was completed in November last year, two years earlier than MoDOT’s goal, and more than a year ahead of the commitment established by the project’s design-build contractor, KTU Constructors.

This is the second time MoDOT has won in this competition that is now in its sixth year. The reconstruction of I-64 in St. Louis was the winner of the Grand Prize in 2010, which is chosen by a panel of judges. Utah won that award this year for a project that expanded Interstate 15.

“We are thrilled to have won this award,” Project Manager Dave Nichols said. “It was truly a unique project that benefited all Missourians, and was successfully completed through the efforts of our employees and our many partners in the Missouri engineering and construction communities.”

MoDOT received a $10,000 prize that is to be presented to a charity of the department’s choice. MoDOT will contribute the money to CureSearch for Children’s Cancer, which funds and supports targeted and innovative children’s cancer research. There is a personal connection between the Safe & Sound project and CureSearch. KTU Constructors’ project director Harry Koenigs and his wife Robin lost their son Jake to a form of children’s cancer in 2006. They, along with Koenig’s employer, Kiewit, have worked tirelessly to raise research funds to find a cure ever since through a series of “JakeFest” golf tournaments that have netted more than $1 million.

“We are happy to contribute this prize to the CureSearch effort,” Nichols said. “Harry Koenig’s leadership was a huge factor in the success of Safe & Sound, and we are honored to be able to contribute to an effort that he is so passionate about.”