IRF honors outstanding achievements at its 2009 Annual Awards Banquet

Over 200 road professionals and government officials gathered for this annual event to celebrate the accomplishments and successes of the road industry.

The International Road Federation (IRF) presented 12 Global Road Achievement Awards (GRAA), the 2008 Student Essay Competition winner, and three Lifetime Distinguished Service Awards at its 2009 Annual Awards Banquet held at The Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C. on January 12.

Patrick Sankey, CEO and Director General, IRF-Washington, welcomed guests to the event and introduced IRF-Washington chairman Brian Harris as the presenter of the GRAAs.

“As engineers and road builders, I don’t think we’re so good at self promotion,” said Harris. “But, as you can see from these awards, we have a lot to be proud of as a road building community. And in these tough economic times it is easy to be fearful, but as we see from these award winning projects, our industry continues to provide innovation and solutions.”

GRAA Presentations

Founded in 2000, this program recognizes the exemplary projects and organizations that place this industry at the forefront of social and economic development. An independent panel of judges from around the world with expertise in the roadway development industry selected the winners for this year’s competition. IRF presented the crystal trophies to the 12 award winners after a two minute video presentation of the winning project played for the audience.

Clark Martin, of the FHWA Office of Professional and Corporate Development, praised the event and the presentations.

“This was a great awards show,” said Martin. “The video presentations of the winning projects were outstanding. This was a great program.”

IRF 2008 Student Essay Competition Winner

In 2008, IRF launched its Student Essay Competition. Many outstanding essays were submitted from students from nearly two dozen universities. Students were asked to submit an essay which addressed a topic under the theme for this year’s competition – Road Safety.

Allison Daniello, a junior mechanical engineering student was selected as the winner of this year’s competition. Daniello completed her essay – ‘Motorcycle Guardrail Crashes: How can the risk of severe injury and fatality be reduced?’ – under the supervision of Dr. Clay Gabler at Virginia Tech University.

Mike Dreznes, vice president, Barrier Systems, presented the inaugural IRF Student Essay Competition winner.

“I am constantly amazed and impressed by the enthusiasm, creativity, inventiveness, and discipline of these young professionals,” said Dreznes. “It really gives me great hope that the future will indeed be better than the present.”

Dreznes presented Daniello with her first place prize of (US)$3,000 and Dr. Gabler was recognized as well.

IRF Lifetime Achievement Awards

John Gehrett receives his Lifetime Distinguished Service Award from IRF-Washington Chairman Brian Harris and CEO Patrick Sankey

John Gehrett receives his Lifetime Distinguished Service Award from IRF-Washington Chairman Brian Harris and CEO Patrick Sankey

This year, IRF honored Marion C. Dietrich, John O. Gehrett, and Dana E. Low for their lifetime of service and dedication to the road industry.

“These three men have gone above and beyond in their service, have shown a sustained commitment to IRF’s core values, demonstrated leadership and sacrifice for the betterment of the global road community, and have given their time, energy, and money to support IRF’s mission,” said Harris.

Unfortunately, Mr. Dietrich passed away on Oct. 30, 2008 and Mr. Low was unable to attend the Awards Banquet. Mr. Gehrett was presented as the recipient of a Lifetime Distinguished Service Award and received a standing ovation from the audience.

Mr. Gehrett thanked IRF for the honor and distinction of receiving the award and recalled fond memories of IRF.

“I’ve had many wonderful opportunities in the IRF family to meet great people from all over the world and form lasting friendships,” said Gehrett. “This is a wonderful organization. In my life I have had two families. My first, and most important, is my family with my wife, kids, and grandkids. But, my second family has been IRF, with my dear friends Marion and Dana.”

As the ceremonies came to a close, His Excellency, Deputy Minister Abdullah A. Al-Mogbel thanked IRF on behalf of all the award winners.

“The IRF Awards Program is a very important program because it promotes the many great benefits we provide economies and communities around the world.”

Harris closed the ceremonies by encouraging all in attendance to submit their outstanding projects for the 2009 IRF GRAA Competition.

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