PennDOT is inviting local students to participate in the sixth annual PennDOT Innovations Challenge.

The contest puts students’ real-world problem-solving abilities to the test, with exercises from PennDOT that are based on actual problems the transportation agency is facing.

This year, the challenge is trucking parking along interstate corridors in Pennsylvania. PennDOT has been steadily increasing truck parking along the turnpike, but interstate parking areas are lagging behind. PennDOT said that it’s looking for innovative approaches to increase commercial truck parking availability and offset costs incurred for construction.

Students must keep in mind the same details as PennDOT’s engineers, ranging from local ordinances and zoning laws to land development funding, community impact, restroom facilities, and space requirements.

The I-78/I-81 interchange in Lebanon County is among the 12 geographic areas students may elect to use for their submissions.

“Pennsylvania is a critical freight corridor, and it’s important that commercial drivers have adequate safe parking along our roadway network,” said PennDOT secretary Yassmin Gramian in a press release. “I’m excited to see the creative ideas that the students bring to this year’s challenge.”

Submissions will first be reviewed and judged by PennDOT regional offices before a statewide competition. The challenge is open to high school students across the state, but unfortunately anyone with immediate family members working for PennDOT has to sit this one out.

A prize of $4,000 is up for grabs to the statewide winning team, as well as a traveling trophy for a year as well as a permanent trophy for the school to keep on display

For complete details, visit PennDOT’s website. The submission deadline is Jan. 27.

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