Recent Iowa DOT awards

AwardsThe Iowa DOT is focused on making lives better through transportation. Whether we are working to put safety first or focusing on our customers, innovation, and leadership are at the heart of the work we do. Sometimes that work earns us attention and accolades from our industry partners and peers. We are proud of those across our DOT team who have been recognized for the following awards.

2023 AASHTO High-Value Research Supplemental Award: Safety Focus

Snowplow applying salt
Iowa DOT snowplow drivers rely on information gathered by roadway friction sensors to determine what treatments are applied during winter months.

Keeping you safer on Iowa roads is the main focus of the Iowa DOT. We are always looking for new and innovative ways to maintain our roads, especially in the winter. One research project focused on our efforts to train and improve computer models to predict where salt or other treatments should be applied during winter weather was recently honored with a regional “High-Value Research” award by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.

Like other states, Iowa uses a mix of stationary and mobile sensors along the state’s highways to measure road friction and guide its winter maintenance activities. This research used friction models to accurately estimate where treatments are needed even in locations of the state where sensors aren’t available. Being able to determine specific treatments for roadways reduces waste and saves funds that can be used to purchase additional treatments.  
This award marks the 13th High-Value Research award that we have earned in the last 10 years. To promote the research project, we’ll be participating in a poster session dedicated to high-value research projects at the annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board in Washington, D.C. this week.

To see more about this project and the award related to high-value research, go to

Iowa DOT takes home several awards from the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators regional meeting

Traci Keel is our 2022 AAMVA Examiner of the Year Award

Traci Keel and Kathy Schultz
Traci Keel, driver & identification service center consultant, received the 2022 AAMVA IDEC Examiner of the Year Award. She is shown with Kathleen Schultz, public service manager.

Improving the customer experience at our DMV locations is a goal we’ve been focused on. This year’s Iowa DOT Examiner of the Year takes customer experience to heart, not only with our external customers but with our new team members.

Traci Keel, Keel, an 18-year veteran of the Iowa DOT is a driver & identification service center consultant with the Davenport and Clinton DMVs and was recently named Iowa’s Examiner of the Year by the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators.

Traci was recognized for helping train six new team members in Davenport on how to not only do their jobs but to enhance the experience of every customer. 

 Learning just the nuts and bolts of the job can be a challenge with the variety of complex computer systems, and all the laws and regulations our DMV staff needs to know.

 Traci played a vital role in the successful planning to get t our six new DOTers up to speed and set them up for success. .

Traci is a leader among her peers and always puts the customer’s and the team’s needs first. Our new employees said Traci put them at ease which helped them learn the processes of the job much easier. Traci goes above and beyond because she truly cares and wants the best for coworkers and customers.

Kayla Burkett receives the AAMVA’s Department of Motor Vehicle Lifesaver Award

Lifesaver award
Kayla Burkett, second from right, Iowa Department of Transportation, receives Donate Life America’s DMV Lifesaver Award from Melissa Gillett, director, Iowa Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Division and 2023 AAMVA president for Region 3, Heather Butterfield, director of Strategic Communications, Iowa Donor Network, and Ian Grossman, president and CEO, AAMVA.

Did you know that when you visit any of the Iowa DOT’s DMV locations you could potentially save someone’s life? By checking yes to organ donation on your driver’s license or identification card you could help heal or restore the lives of up to 75 people. According to information compiled by Donate Life America, thousands of people die each year waiting for organ transplants due to the high need and low supply. As a result, many more people will face long waits and poor medical alternatives because they can’t get a tissue transplant.

Kayla Burkett, chief integration officer with the our Motor Vehicle Division, received the Donate Life America’s 2023 Department of Motor Vehicle Lifesaver Award a recent conference of our region of the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators.

Kayla was chosen for this award for her work to help create a culture where people from leadership to the front-line staff supported efforts to register Iowans for organ, eye, and tissue donation. About 97 percent of the 1.6 million Iowans who are registered organ, eye and tissue donors did so while getting their ID cards or driver’s licenses.

Jason Nusbaum takes home AAMVA award for Fraud Prevention and Detection: Investigations Individual Award

Invstigator awards
Jason Nusbaum (center), investigator, Iowa Department of Transportation, Bureau of Investigation & Identity Protection, receives the Fraud Prevention and Detection: Investigations Individual Award from Melissa Gillett, director, Iowa Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Division and 2023 AAMVA president for Region 3, and Ian Grossman, president and CEO, AAMVA.

Identity theft and fraud can cause major issues for our customers. Imagine purchasing a vehicle where information has been falsified or you weren’t buying from the rightful owner. What if you were in a crash and the person in the other vehicle provided officers at the scene with false information, it could make settling claims very tough. Jason Nusbaum, motor vehicle investigator with our Bureau of Investigation and Identity Protection, works to stop identity theft and fraud for all Iowans. Jason has been a motor vehicle investigator for the past seven years as well as being a certified peace officer for 14 years. Jason is the recipient of the 2023 AAMVA Fraud prevention and Detection: Investigations Individual Award.

Jason received this award for his work in investigating an individual who was involved in several fraud schemes that involved identity theft and fraud surrounding the purchase of a motor vehicle. The suspect made an online application to the Iowa DOT using false information to proctor the knowledge exam for her son to obtain his driving permit. The suspect provided a false Iowa driver’s license on the application which allowed her to fraudulently proctor the exam since her own driver’s license was suspended. She also fraudulently purchased a 2011 Dodge Nitro from a motor vehicle dealership with a counterfeit Iowa driver’s license and a personal check that was returned as insufficient funds. Due to this fraudulent purchase, the vehicle was entered into the National Crime Information Center as stolen. After the vehicle had been recovered Jason was able to inspect the vehicle and determined the Iowa DOT temporary registration displayed was counterfeit. A search warrant conducted at the residence of the suspect located various counterfeit documents including bank checks, two counterfeit driver’s licenses, 19 counterfeit Iowa DOT temporary registration tags, and one Tennessee driver’s license.


 Angie Pinegar and Laura Ridout honored with AAMVA Improvement Through Efficiencies Award

Improvement through efficiencies award
Angie Pinegar, (second from left) training specialist 2, and Laura Ridout (second from right), training specialist 1, Iowa Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Division, received the Improvement Through Efficiencies Award for their work with the new employee orientation program from Melissa Gillett, director, Iowa Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Division and 2023 AAMVA president for Region 3 and Ian Grossman, president and CEO, AAMVA, at the 2023 AAMVA Region 3 Conference in Des Moines.

Our customers can only be successful when our employees are well-training and share a common goal.

To achieve this in the Motor Vehicle Division, the team developed new in-person training for new employees that was recently highlighted with an American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators Award for Improvement Through Efficiencies.

 The New Team Member Orientation program. began in August of 2021 to improve the consistency of training and ensure that all staff working on transactions have a shared understanding and appreciation of our goals. The program also works to ensure that all new hires excel as Iowa DOT employees. As a customer of the driver’s license service centers this helps make sure your customer experience is the same no matter what location you select.

Before this new program, information offered to customers would sometimes vary from location to location based on the training that was available when an employee was hired.

To connect new DOTers with the agency and ensure that vital tasks like fingerprinting needed for background checks to gain access to vital systems were completed on time, the new program includes a full day of in-person training at MVD headquarters, combined with the fingerprint and security check when needed.

The training included an overview of Iowa DOT and MVD, including familiarization with all major products and services. It featured hands-on fraud training with an investigator and meetings with key support staff for primary driver and vehicle functions. It also included direct time with MVD management and DOT executive management, who would speak to the overall statewide mission of the agency.

In its first year, 138 new team members experienced this training. The orientation program was so popular that another 47 individuals who had been with the department for a time voluntarily chose to participate in the first year. The program exceeded the goal of 90 percent of all new hires completing orientation within three months with 96 percent of new hires attending orientation. The 185 program participants rated the program with 4.7 stars on a 5-point scale and spoke to the program as being inspiring, welcoming, positive, and interactive.

Donald Sharr honored with the AAMVA Publications and Visual Arts Award

Don Sharr award
Don Sharr (center), Iowa Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Division, received the Publications and Visual Arts Award from Melissa Gillett, director, Iowa Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Division and 2023 AAMVA president for Region 3, and Ian Grossman, president and CEO, AAMVA, at the 2023 AAMVA Region 3 Conference in Des Moines.

When talking to college underclassmen and enforcement our staff discovered that many underage students have fake IDs but do not understand the repercussions this can have, not only now, but it can follow them well into adulthood.

To address this issue we developed a communication campaign to educate underage students about the dangers of using a fake ID. This program was recently honored with an American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrator’s regional award for Publications and Visual Arts.

We partnered with colleges and universities to hone the message and create literature such as flyers, posters, and handouts to be used on campus during freshman orientation. The literature was intended to provide an overview of what “could happen” if one was caught with a counterfeit ID and provide some pondering examples of how using a fake ID could impact their personal life and future. The goal was to get families to talk about this issue, provide some relevant information regarding consequences; both criminally and personally, and to provide some perspective to the student and their families that would result in the student refraining from obtaining a counterfeit DL/ID in the future.

Alex Jansen and Kelli Huser accept AAMVA Excellence in Government Partnership Award

Government partnership award
Kelli Huser and Alex Jansen (center), Iowa Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Division, received the Excellence in Government Partnership Award from Melissa Gillett, director, Iowa Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Division and 2023 AAMVA president for Region 3, and Ian Grossman, president and CEO, AAMVA, at the 2023 AAMVA Region 3 Conference in Des Moines.

Safety starts with having good information and communication. Our Motor Vehicle Division recently won a regional award from the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators for a program developed to bring safety, enforcement, and business practice information directly to motor carriers. This program not only provided information, but it also allowed our staff to connect with their motor carrier industry partners on a personal level.

Alex Jensen and Kelli Huser accepted the Excellence in Government Partnership award for the program they spearheaded which included a series of five regional meetings held in 2022. These meetings were designed to connect Iowa motor carriers with the right contacts to find updated and accurate information on different areas and regulations they are bound to follow.  

A total of 139 motor carrier representatives attended the meetings to hear presentations from four diverse business areas within Iowa DOT: enforcement, audits, customer service, and commercial driver licensing. The full-day workshop included in-person presentations from our subject matter experts and question-answer sessions with all the business units. In a post-workshop survey, 85 percent of respondents rated the workshops as either "excellent" or "very good" and 92 percent stated it was either "extremely" or "very" well-organized. Respondents indicated the speakers were knowledgeable and approachable, that the presentations were informative and incredible, and greatly appreciated the open and conversational approach.

I-74 Bridge garners International Excellence in Concrete Award

I-74 bridgeEvery day thousands of people use Interstate 74 in the Quad Cities to get between Iowa and Illinois. This vital connection impacts not only freight and passenger movement between the two states, but it also connects travelers to the region and ultimately the nation.

This bridge was recently replaced and has been receiving many awards, including the American Concrete Institute’s Excellence in Concrete Construction award. The prestigious, international honor of first place for Excellence in Concrete Construction recognizes the construction team for the successful use of immense volumes of very technical/complex concrete mix. The mix was precooled with liquid nitrogen and delivered and placed by water. There was also an environmental/sustainability component. The specific concrete mix used by the contractor had a lower carbon footprint than more conventional concrete mixes.

Griffin Hahn of Hahn Ready Mix, with primary support from DOT, and some additional support from the design team, submitted the I-74 project for this award. Hahn supplied the concrete for this project and became eligible to submit this for a national award after winning the local Iowa ACI chapter award for it. Project team members included the Iowa DOT, Illinois Department of Transportation, Architectural Firm: Rosales + Partners (Bridge Architect); Engineering Firms: Benesch (Overall Corridor Manager & Design Lead) and Modieski and Masters (Design Lead for Arch Superstructure); River Bridge General Contractor and Concrete Contractor: Lunda Construction Co.; Concrete Supplier: Hahn Ready Mix.

The Interstate 74 bridge over the Mississippi River between Iowa and Illinois has won both the 2022 National Steel Bridge Alliance Prize Bridge Award and the 2023 American Concrete Institute Excellence in Concrete Award for Infrastructure. To win a steel award and a concrete award on the same project is very special.

To find out more about this award entry, go to

Council Bluffs Interstate System Dual, Divided Freeway project wins two awards

CBIS dual dividedTo improve mobility around SW Iowa, the region, and beyond, for the last several years we’ve been reconstructing the interstate system in Council Bluffs. Part of the project included building a dual, divided roadway carrying Interstates 80 and 29. This was a first for Iowa. This design physically separates through traffic on I-80 from local traffic on I-29 destined for Council Bluffs, creating I-80 Express lanes and I-29/I-80 Local lanes. This was accomplished by constructing four separate roadways (two roadways for traffic in each direction). Each roadway is separated by a concrete median barrier.

This design helps you get where you need to go, even if there is a maintenance or a crash on the roadway.  During peak traffic times, you deal with less congestion on the roadway as traffic not stopping on Interstate 80 in Council Bluffs is separated by separated from local traffic that needs to stop in Council Bluffs.

The design and construction of this project have collected several awards. The latest awards are

Old Highway 20 – 2023 Lifetime Pavement Recognition Award – Woodbury County

Old Highway 20
This section of Old State Highway 20 is over 100 years old and is just east of Fair Street in Moville, Woodbury County.

We do our best to build roads that your grandchildren will be using. Building roadways that last for generations with minimal maintenance saves your taxpayer dollars. One project that has been recognized for its pavement longevity is a section of old U.S. 20 just east of Fair Street in Moville, in Woodbury County.

The American Concrete Paving Association awarded this stretch of road with its 2023 Lifetime Pavement Recognition Award because it has over 100 years of service and reflects exceptional longevity, durability, and resilience. The roadway has survived extreme weather, continuous traffic, and other environmental exposures with only minimal maintenance by Iowa DOT staff which the group says is truly remarkable.


Congratulations to all of you! Very impressive awards and very interesting projects I had no idea about prior to this article.

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