ADOT wins two TransComm awards

ADOT wins two TransComm awards


ADOT wins two TransComm awards

ADOT wins two TransComm awards

By John LaBarbera / ADOT Communications
October 5, 2021

Please allow us to toot our own horn for a moment.

ADOT is proud to announce that we have won two TransComm awards from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials!

Our Twitter account, @ArizonaDOT (give us a follow, won’t you?), scored the top prize in the Best Use of Single Social Media Platform. With nearly 260,000 followers, ADOT’s Twitter account not only provides up-to-the minute tweets on roadway conditions around the clock, but also delivers important information about upcoming highway projects and safe driving campaigns.

Twitter is staffed by a team embedded in ADOT’s Traffic Operations Center. By coordinating with dispatchers and law enforcement, the team brings the motoring public accurate details about lane blockages and unplanned road closures in real-time, so drivers and their passengers can make the best decisions for their travel plans.

Throw in a quiz or two, some humor (when appropriate of course), and answering all the burning highway questions that come our way, and you’ve got a winning combination!

The second award bestowed unto us this year is for something you’re reading right now. Yes, the ADOT Blog won Best Blog at the 2021 TransComm awards. And we couldn’t be more delighted!

Since 2011, the ADOT Blog has delivered digestible bites of insight on a wide variety of topics. We started out as a place for stories about how highways were built and the people who were building them. In the last decade, the ADOT Blog has blossomed into so much more.

Over the past year alone, we’ve brought you pertinent updates on long-term highway projects, road trip recipes, tales about transportation history and personal stories about individual ADOT workers. Not to mention, of course, several important messages from our director, John Halikowski.

You can sift through the archive of the ADOT Blog’s first ten years whenever you’d like right here.

Of course, none of this would have been possible without you, our Twitter followers and blog readers. Thanks for riding on this journey with us. We promise to continue being an informative and entertaining travel companion for years to come.

'Big Foot' former director left big transportation legacy

'Big Foot' former director left big transportation legacy


'Big Foot' former director left big transportation legacy

'Big Foot' former director left big transportation legacy

By Laurie Merrill / ADOT Communications
May 4, 2021

He was a hearty man with a winning style and warm smile.

He was beloved by his employees, who called him “Big Foot” for his height and size: 6 foot, 4 inches tall and some 240 pounds.

But history will most likely recall the late Justin Herman, Arizona Highway Department director from 1956 to 1973, as the energetic leader who shepherded in the modern state freeway system, including the Black Canyon (Interstate 17), Superstition (US 60) and Maricopa (Interstate 10) freeways.

“During his tenure of office, some of the most important and mammoth advances and improvements in the history of Arizona road building, dating back to the date of Statehood in 1912, have been initiated and completed,” the Arizona Public Employee publication said of Herman in March 1970.

Here are some of those mammoth advances, according to our 2012 Arizona Transportation History report

"Work began on the Maricopa Freeway in 1958, and soon contracts for both new freeways were being issued on a regular basis. By 1961, more than six miles of the Black Canyon were open to traffic, from McDowell Road to Northern Avenue, and work was proceeding at a rapid pace. In late 1964, the combined Black Canyon–Maricopa freeway was dedicated from 16th Street to just north of the Carefree Highway. At a cost of $33.5 million for 30 miles of roadway – more than a $1 million per mile – it was by far the most expensive highway built in Arizona up to that time.”

You can see Herman, second from the left in the photo above, at that 1964 dedication of the combined Maricopa and Black Canyon highways.

Herman was the first and only director of the Highway Department, as before him the chief transportation official had been the state engineer. He served 17 years under five governors, being appointed three times to five-year terms before his retirement in 1973. By then, he had notched 42 years of public service, including 32 with the department.

The next year, 1974, the department he formerly headed became the Arizona Department of Transportation.

Larger than life character

Herman’s 93-year-old son – also named Justin Herman – described his dad in a recent interview as a larger-than-life character with contagious enthusiasm and a drive to get things done.

“He was an all-around great person, one of those people whom others liked immensely, a good-natured and highly intelligent man,” he recalled. “His big mission in life was to help people in any way he could.”

ADOT’s Spotlight bulletin echoed this sentiment in an article about Herman receiving a plaque for his service.

“Herman’s style of ‘personal diplomacy,’ marked by a friendly smile, a ready, powerful handshake, and a kind word to all, made him one of the most widely known state officials in Arizona,” it said.

To get a sense of how widely known Herman was, his son shared about the time he was renewing his license at the Arizona Department of Motor Vehicles, when the woman behind the counter recognized Herman’s name.

“I want to tell you a story,” she told him.

She was only a temporary employee at ADOT, she said, when her husband died of cancer. Around the same time, she was notified that her position would end and she would be let go after that Christmas. She told her supervisor how desperately she needed a job, and he urged her to see the director.

When she went to meet with Herman, he didn’t even know her name. He would meet with anyone regardless of position. She told him her situation, and the next day she was offered a job as a full-time employee.

“He was beloved,” his son said.

Just another cowboy

There was also the time when Herman met with the producer of a movie being shot in Sedona, who was requesting another road for equipment and vehicles.

That producer was John Wayne. And the road, which ADOT built, led to a cottage industry of westerns getting filmed in Sedona, his son said.

Justin Herman, center back, watches then-Gov. Jack Williams declare "Highway Week"

What did Herman think of John Wayne?

“He’s just another cowboy,” he told his son.

Another time in 1950, Herman, his wife and son were on a trip up north when the car broke down.  Herman had to wait hours for another car to come by and give him a lift to a telephone.

He telephoned his employees for help, since at the time he was Superintendent of the Shops. His colleagues were so amused by the irony that they put up a sign at the breakdown location called “Herman’s Crossing.” The site was even on the map for a while, the younger Herman said.

Years later, the younger Herman’s own son, Dan Herman, retrieved the sign – which had become riddled with bullet holes – and put it on his college dorm-room door.

Dan Herman has heard plenty of tales like these about his grandfather, but he was also was privy to his domestic side.

“He puttered in the yard, read Zane Grey novels and cooked sausage and eggs for us on Sundays,” he said.  

If this seems like a long time ago, it was. But the past came to the surface recently when Herman’s granddaughter, Luciana Herman, spotted a photo of him on ADOT’s Twitter feed. The photo at the top of this post, in fact. 

“Such a proud day for my grandfather back in 1964,” Luciana tweeted. “I-10 took up a lot of space in his head in those years as director.”

The second photo on the right shows Gov. Jack Williams signing a proclamation about "Highway Week" in Arizona. while looking on behind him, from left, are William Price, state highway engineer; Herman, and Lew Davis, chairman of the Arizona State Highway Commission. 

Perhaps Herman’s most lasting legacy will be his passion for his job and the people of the state.

His son said: “He just loved his job and the people so much!”

Celebrating 10 years of who, what, when, where, why and how

Celebrating 10 years of who, what, when, where, why and how


Celebrating 10 years of who, what, when, where, why and how

Celebrating 10 years of who, what, when, where, why and how

By David Rookhuyzen / ADOT Communications
April 27, 2021

"Transportation is personal. It affects every aspect of our daily lives, giving us the freedom to move where, when and how we want to go. It’s how we get to work in the morning and back home at night. It’s how the products we buy get to stores and how the products we sell get to our customers. It’s how we reach destinations in our state."

We couldn't agree more with those words. Mainly because we wrote them – 10 years ago this month when we published our first blog post.

That's right. A decade ago we were trying to find the right way (in the words of that post) "to help inform people about what we do and why and how we do it." One of the methods we settled on, aside from our fantastic and informative social media accounts, was to start up this very blog. 

Kicking off with that first post on April 11, 2011 we've done our best to meet that goal, whether it be telling you about passive acoustic devices, not-so-visible landscape maintenance tasks, how overhead freeway signage is installed, or all the best highway photos you can find on our Instagram account.

Along the way we've also kept you updated on the behind-the-scenes work of projects important to the driving public, such as when the Loop 303 interchange with I-10 neared completion, when US 89 was close to reopening after a devastating landslide, or when the Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway was ready for traffic

We've also had our fun. Remember the parachuting cows? Or Sasquatches off State Route 260? Or how ... uh ... thematic we've gotten with our overhead message boards?

But at the end of the day the goal has always been to tell you the who, what, when, where, why and how of designing, building and maintaining the state highway system. And we plan to continue doing just that for 10 more years and beyond.

With that in mind, it's only fitting that we close this post the same way we finished the very first one.

"So, I hope you’ll bookmark this page, subscribe to our RSS feed, share our posts, and, of course, leave behind lots of comments.

"Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more to come!"

In Arizona, nothing from Nothing equals a ghost town

In Arizona, nothing from Nothing equals a ghost town


In Arizona, nothing from Nothing equals a ghost town

In Arizona, nothing from Nothing equals a ghost town

By Laurie Merrill / ADOT Communications
September 2, 2020

Does Nothing from nothing leave nothing?

It does, except in Arizona, where Nothing is a ghost town, and that’s not nothing!

Its wind-weathered sign on US 93 between Wickenburg and Kingman is a faded reminder that Nothing’s population – once a thriving 9 – is now, well, nothing.

Nothing might be more accurately described as a ghost settlement, since it never gained incorporated status. It was more of a wide place along the road about 100 miles northwest of Phoenix at milepost 148.5.

But during its heyday, Nothing boasted the “Taint Much Ado” bar, a store, taco stand and gas station. Richard “Buddy” Kenworthy built the businesses after settling the outpost in 1977. The place managed to snag some gamblers and other ramblers traveling between Phoenix and Las Vegas.

After a 1988 fire destroyed Kenworthy’s businesses, he rebuilt the store and garage, but it wasn’t enough to return Nothing to something.  Kenworthy moved on in 2005.

Nothing had a near revival in 2008. A businessman, Mike Jensen, took a liking to Nothing and set up a pizza stand with a portable oven. He even spiffed up the place up with the goal of creating accommodations for RVs.

But by 2011, he too had moved on. It’s tempting to say nothing remained in Nothing, but the worn-out signs and collapsing structures are still there, providing a break in the scenery on the 128 miles between Wickenburg and Kingman. 

You could say it was all for Nothing, like the sign in Nothing:  

Town of Nothing Arizona. Founded 1977. Elevation 3269 ft.
The staunch citizens of Nothing are full of Hope, Faith, and Believe in the work ethic. Thru-the-years-these dedicated people had faith in Nothing, hoped for Nothing, worked at Nothing, for Nothing.

Five years ago we were boulder busting on US 89A

Five years ago we were boulder busting on US 89A


Five years ago we were boulder busting on US 89A

Five years ago we were boulder busting on US 89A

By Laurie Merrill / ADOT Communications
August 10, 2020

House Rock Flood Repair_US89A

US 89A, an 87-mile stretch between Bitter Springs to Fredonia in far northern Arizona, provides jaw-dropping views of spectacular vistas amid iconic rugged landscape.

It is known for Jacob Lake, gateway to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, Navajo Bridge over Marble Canyon and a spectacular run beneath the Vermilion Cliffs.

But five years ago, a monster monsoon storm severely damaged 24 miles of the highway. What happened next was a chapter in Arizona Department of Transportation history that shows how quick action, preparedness and cooperation with the private and public sectors rebuilt what is probably the most photographed road in the state.  

It was on Aug. 9, 2015, that a powerful storm dropped nearly 1.5 inches of rain in just 15 minutes on an area that included US 89A. The resulting House Rock Flood carried monster rocks to the highway from the Vermilion Cliffs two miles away and dumped mud everywhere.

“When Arizona Department of Transportation crews arrived on that day in August 2015, what they saw stopped their bulldozers in their tracks: boulders the size of elephants  – 15 feet in diameter – and mud in seven different slides that covered portions of 24 miles of the only road across a wide area north of the Grand Canyon,” ADOT said in a press release. You can see some of that damage for yourself in this slideshow.

The enormity of the disaster prompted Governor Doug Ducey to issue a Declaration of Emergency to allow ADOT to seek approximately $2 million in federal emergency funding to cover the initial costs to reopen the highway as well as long-term repairs, according to another release from the time.

Both the biggest challenge and reward involved getting rid of those mammoth boulders fast enough to reopen US 89A within 24 hours.

“To break up the boulders, ADOT used Boulder Busters,” we wrote in a blog at the time. “These are explosive cartridges that look like 12-gauge shotgun shells but have a thicker rim that would prevent them from being used in a shotgun. Crews drill a hole in a boulder, fill it with fluid, insert one to three shells and trigger an explosion."

That blog even included a little spoof to go with the clearing work. Do you remember the “Ghostbusters” film theme song?

If there’s something strange sitting in your road
Who you gonna call? (Boulder Busters)
15 feet tall
In the northbound lane
Who you gonna call? (Boulder Busters)

US 89A received a makeover to beat all makeovers. The work was so exemplary that ADOT and contractor S.J. Anderson Co. of Mesa received the 2015 Harry H. Mellon Award of Excellence Winner in Job Order Contracting for the US 89A House Rock Flash Flood Project.

“Even with the challenges of a huge task in a remote location, the US 89A repairs were completed in just 53 days, with ADOT providing on-site inspection. The contractor mobilized within days of proposal acceptance, bringing crews and equipment from around the Southwest,” according to the release about the award. 

Tons of stone blocking your path
Who you gonna call? (Boulder Busters)
Can’t make your way
To Jacob Lake
Who you gonna call? (Boulder Busters)

I ain’t afraid of no rocks.

Some changes in store for the ADOT Blog

Some changes in store for the ADOT Blog


Some changes in store for the ADOT Blog

Some changes in store for the ADOT Blog

March 10, 2016

Images from past blogs.

Angela De Welles / ADOT Communications

After almost 800 posts, it’s time to change the way we do things here on the ADOT Blog…

Now, we’re not talking about anything too drastic.

We’re still going to share stories that help foster meaningful conversations about transportation – not just about a construction project that will affect your daily commute – but conversations that put people in touch with services we provide and involve people in transportation issues and solutions.

If that line sounds familiar you must be a long-time reader because it is one that we used in our very first post and it still holds true!

What’s changing is that we’re going to have more people telling those stories. In fact, you may have already noticed a few new bylines in recent days. Our hope is that these new voices give you a fresh look at what ADOT does and how we do it.

By the way, we are not going far … or, maybe we should switch things over to first-person and say, I am not going far.

I’m still here at ADOT and may even pop in to write a post every now and then!

So, thanks for reading the ADOT Blog these past five years.

I know I’ve discovered a lot about Arizona’s transportation system by writing this blog. I hope you’ve been able to learn more about the state’s transportation story by reading along. Stay tuned for new and exciting things to come!

A few of our favorite posts...

From asphalt to zipper merges and everything in between, the ADOT Blog has covered plenty of transportation topics over the years. While it’d be impossible to choose the top post, we’ve gone back and selected a few favorites.

We have to start this list off with the ADOT Blog’s very first post – this is where we spelled out all our goals for the blog.

Anything having to do with the Deck Park Tunnel is interesting to us. Through the ADOT Blog, we’ve learned how the tunnel gets clean, what its construction looked like and even why other tunnels are down there too. We celebrated the tunnel’s birthday just last year and have shared a few videos, including this one from the afternoon a produce truck spilled its contents in the westbound lanes.

We really do enjoy the science of transportation, including this post that taught us how ADOT utilizes an Accelerated Weathering Tester to foretell how well paint will hold up against the elements (trust us, it’s more interesting than it sounds).

We love the history of transportation, too. That’s why the From the Archives series is one of our favorites!

Remember Rocky the Ringtail? How about all those posts that show what it takes to move oversize loads through the state? We can’t leave out this dog rescue, or this one. OK, this list really could go on and on, but we’ll wrap it up here.

ADOT Blog marks 600th post

ADOT Blog marks 600th post


ADOT Blog marks 600th post

ADOT Blog marks 600th post

December 5, 2014

Thanks for reading!

We’ve reached a milestone, here on the ADOT Blog.

Today, we mark our 600th blog post! We thought we’d take this as an opportunity to say thank you to all of our readers. We really appreciate everyone who takes the time to visit this blog

Before we get started on the next 600, we want to look back and point out a few of our all-time favorite blogs post...

  • Speaking of milestones, back in 2012, Arizona celebrated its Centennial. To mark the occasion, the ADOT Blog featured a really cool video that documented everything ADOT does in a single day. From construction projects and maintenance work to planning meetings and the MVD, the video gives a comprehensive look at ADOT’s many jobs across the state.
  • Some of our favorite posts are the ones that highlight a transportation-related object or concept that most people don’t know too much about. This post on ADOT’s use of an accelerated weathering tester certainly falls into that category. The accelerated weathering tester is used by ADOT’s Materials Testing team to analyze how well paint will perform on ADOT projects, come rain or shine. We promise, the topic is an interesting one!
  • We’re also really fond of blog posts that can answer the questions that motorists might think of as they’re driving through our state. For instance, have you ever wondered how ADOT cleans and maintains the I-10 Deck Park Tunnel? We’ve got the answer for you in this post from 2011!
  • Featuring the good things that happen out on the road is always fun. This post tells the story of how two ADOT workers were able to rescue a dog off the highway and reunite her with her owners.
  • Showing how ADOT plans for the future has been a big theme here on the blog. We especially liked this post from 2012 that explains how ADOT tests sign sheeting material to see how well it will hold up against the heat for years to come.
  • We’ve developed a few series over the last 600 posts in order to better explain transportation and the state’s highway system. Transportation Defined, From the Archives, Vehicles of ADOT, Science of Transportation, Building a Freeway and From the Rearview Mirror (our newest) are all worth checking out!
  • We can’t forget the videos! We’ve featured so many awesome ADOT videos on this blog. If you haven’t watched them all, you’re missing out!

Finally, we want say our thanks again and remind you that we’re open for feedback. Feel free to tell us about the types of stories and videos you want to see more of. Let us know the transportation questions you have that we haven’t answered yet.

ADOT Blog marks milestone with third anniversary, 500th post

ADOT Blog marks milestone with third anniversary, 500th post

I-17 101 traffic interchange

ADOT Blog marks milestone with third anniversary, 500th post

ADOT Blog marks milestone with third anniversary, 500th post

April 11, 2014

PHOENIX – Three years ago the ADOT Blog was started as a means to inform and explain transportation issues, terms and projects here in Arizona. Now with its 500th post, the blog continues to give the public a deeper look into what’s happening at the Arizona Department of Transportation.

The ADOT Blog has covered a multitude of topics over the years – all with the goal of engaging the public and providing them with an avenue to know not only what ADOT is doing, but why. Some popular posts include those that fall under a particular topic series such as “Transportation Defined” where the blog explains some of the items drivers see along the freeways during their regular commute.

Other topics include behind-the-scenes glimpses at certain transportation projects, and explanations of the science and elements that go into transportation infrastructure.

The goal of the blog has been to enhance public awareness and understanding of ADOT and transportation issues as well as create a more transparent and accountable agency. By giving the public a more in-depth look at what goes into transportation infrastructure and how ADOT’s divisions work together to improve the transportation system in Arizona, the blog can help create a more informed public when it comes to transportation issues.

Memorable blog posts from the past three years include blog posts and videos on the US 89 landslide, alternative fuel license plates and Arizona Centennial Day, where ADOT staff live-blogged from across the state showing a day in the life of ADOT.

ADOT won the Best Blog award in 2012 at TransComm, the annual meeting of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials’ Subcommittee on Transportation Communications. The blog has also been mentioned in transportation industry blogs and publications such as Geosynthetics Magazine and Talking Transportation.

Read the 500th blog along with other posts at:

Happy third birthday to the ADOT Blog!

Happy third birthday to the ADOT Blog!


Happy third birthday to the ADOT Blog!

Happy third birthday to the ADOT Blog!

April 11, 2014

After 500 blog posts, there are still plenty of ADOT stories to tell.

It’s an exciting day for us here on the ADOT Blog.

Not only are we celebrating the blog’s third birthday, today we’re also marking our 500th blog post!

Time sure does fly. It seems like just yesterday we were welcoming readers to the brand new ADOT Blog – a space we promised would be used to help give people a better understanding of how this state’s transportation system is planned, built and maintained.

As we look back to that very first post, we are struck by how different things were ... way back then.

OK, we know 2011 isn’t ancient history and we realize that 36 months isn’t much time compared with the 100-plus years of Arizona’s transportation history, but if you join us today as we reminisce (isn’t that what birthdays are all about?), we think you’ll see what we mean.

For instance, when we started this blog, the 14 miles of Loop 303 between I-17 and Happy Valley Parkway hadn’t opened yet. And, all the work and progress that’s happening on Loop 303 north of I-10 wasn’t even started when we launched the blog.

We can’t leave out US 89. Back when the ADOT Blog started, the now landslide-damaged road was still operational and would be for another 22 months.

What other big transportation changes/accomplishments have occurred since the start of the ADOT Blog? Let’s take a look back at some of our top project-related blog posts:

Of course, that’s just a small fraction of the projects ADOT has worked on and completed over the past three years and it’s just a small fraction of the project posts we’ve published.

But projects aren’t all we’ve blogged about…

In order to better explain transportation and help give readers a better understanding of the state highway system, we have developed a few series that we’re quite proud of, including Transportation Defined, From the ADOT Archives, Vehicles of ADOT and Science of Transportation.

There’s more and we could keep looking back over the past three years and 500 posts, but we’re ready to move ahead. So stay tuned – we have so many more updates, videos and articles all planned for the future. We’re excited for the next 500 posts and can’t wait to see what the roads look like three years from now.

Happy birthday to the ADOT Blog … thanks for reading!

Welcome to the new ADOT Blog

Welcome to the new ADOT Blog


Welcome to the new ADOT Blog

Welcome to the new ADOT Blog

August 16, 2013

ADOT's new blog home.

If you’re reading this post it means you’ve found the ADOT Blog’s new home…

So, what do you think?

We really like the new space and hope you’ll take some time to look around and see how the entire ADOT website has been redesigned with you in mind.

That’s right, after receiving a lot of feedback and putting in many (many) hours, ADOT’s Web Team has created a new site that’s organized to help you discover exactly what you need.

Whether you’re looking for MVD locations, the latest on a project, information on doing business with ADOT or the latest news, you’ll find it all on the new site – it’s just been arranged a little differently in an effort to make your experience better.

After you’ve had a while to look around and take it all in, let us know what you think. You can leave a comment here on the blog, or provide your thoughts by clicking on the feedback tab on the left side of the site.