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Retiring Kentucky State Highway Engineer receives national award

Recognized for skillful management over 27-year career

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Sept. 28, 2015) — Kentucky State Highway Engineer Steve Waddle has been awarded the 2015 Alfred E. Johnson Achievement Award by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO). The award was announced Sunday at AASHTO’s annual meeting in Chicago.

Steve Waddle
Steve Waddle

“I am very humbled to receive this award and proud to accept it on behalf of KYTC,” Waddle said. “It’s an honor to be recognized for something I truly enjoy doing.”

The annual award recognizes the many contributions to management in the field of highway engineering made by Alfred E. Johnson, former Executive Director of AASHTO. It is awarded to the individual selected by the award committee as the person rendering the most outstanding service to their department in the field of engineering or management, covering technical and administrative aspects.

The award is the capstone of Waddle’s 27-year career as a civil engineer, all with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. He retires on Friday.

Appointed by Gov. Steve Beshear as State Highway Engineer in 2010, Waddle has served as chief engineer for the Department of Highways overseeing the department’s three offices—Project Development, Project Delivery and Preservation, and Highway Safety—which together comprise 14 divisions.

“Steve has a ‘can-do’ attitude and exemplary leadership skills,” said KYTC Secretary Mike Hancock. “This award is much-deserved recognition for all the wonderful projects and tasks Steve has led the Cabinet through over the years.”

Waddle joined the cabinet in 1988, a year after graduation from the University of Kentucky College of Engineering, where he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil engineering.

Early assignments included resident engineer for reconstruction of the U.S. 127 corridor through Franklin and Anderson counties. He was the Division of Construction’s field liaison for the U.S. 119, U.S. 23 and U.S. 460 corridor projects in Eastern Kentucky and for construction of the William H. Harsha Bridge over the Ohio River at Maysville.

In 2011, Waddle was instrumental in developing options for dealing with the emergency closure of the Interstate 64 Sherman Minton Bridge between Kentucky and Indiana, leading the project team to a solution that allowed the bridge to be repaired and reopened months ahead of schedule.

In 2012, he was involved in the innovative replacement of a 322-foot span of the U.S. 68 bridge over Kentucky Lake in western Kentucky after the span was struck and destroyed by a cargo ship. A mere 121 days later, just before Memorial Day in a region dependent on summer tourism, a replacement span was in place and the bridge reopened.

Waddle has led the Transportation Cabinet in efforts to improve program delivery and to sustain a level of annual highway and bridge construction awards—about $1 billion each year—in Kentucky.

He also has guided KYTC’s technical staff through difficult times as new processes for project development and project delivery were implemented.