SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - Missouri Department of Transportation Director Kevin Keith today presented a check for a $10,000 fellowship to James Berglund, a graduate student at Missouri State University in Springfield.
The fellowship stems from an award MoDOT received in October from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, AAA and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for the diverging diamond interchange at the intersection of Route 13 and Interstate 44 in Springfield. The award allows the winner to establish a $10,000 fellowship at a state university of the winner's choice.
"This innovative project - the first of its kind in the nation - has done more than just improve safety and traffic flow in Springfield," Keith said. "It's provided a model for other states to use to reduce congestion, save money and make their highways safer. Now it's allowing this motivated young man, James Berglund, to further his research and education."
Berglund is seeking a master's degree in geology at MSU. He plans to use the fellowship to fund his master's thesis research. Berglund says his goal is to be a professional geologist and work in the transportation field.
"I would like to thank MoDOT and the university for selecting me for this fellowship," Berglund said. "This financial assistance will help me focus on field research that will provide important insight into the stability of the bedrock around the next Springfield interchange MoDOT is planning to redesign."
"It is a terrific gift that MoDOT has provided in sponsoring a graduate fellowship for a Missouri State student," said Dr. Frank Einhellig, dean of the Graduate College at Missouri State. "This award recognizes the involvement of our graduate students in working on research problems pertinent to Springfield and the region. James is a fine student who is engaged in geological research on bedrock, a study that has direct implications for highway construction."
The diverging diamond project received AASHTO's Francis B. Francois Award for Innovation, which recognizes a project that establishes, increases, or enhances value to the public. MoDOT opened this first interchange of its kind in the nation in June 2009. The interchange allows traffic to move faster, reduces congestion, increases safety and saves money.