ASCE has honored Caroline Cummings with the 2023 Excellence in Journalism Award for her outstanding coverage of the 15th anniversary of the I-35 Bridge collapse in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and how the region has addressed bridge maintenance since that tragic event.
Cummings’ piece for CBS News Minnesota, “I-35W Bridge Collapse 15 Years Later: How Much Safer Are Minnesota's Bridges?” provides a look back at one of the most devastating infrastructure catastrophes of the 21st century, while putting the event into context with current issues. The story highlights the work Minnesota’s agencies have done to ensure an incident like this never happens again and explains how the transformative Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will help improve bridge conditions statewide. Cummings interviewed ASCE members Ed Lutgen, state bridge engineer for Minnesota Department of Transportation, and Katie Zadrozny for the piece, citing the 2022 Report Card for Minnesota’s Infrastructure as a resource. Zadrozny served as chair of the state’s 2022 Report Card. Cummings’ coverage aired on CBS News Minnesota on July 31, 2022, in both broadcast and digital forms. The Excellence in Journalism Committee recognized Cummings for her ability to take complex and emotional information and make it digestible by audiences of all backgrounds.
In 1994, ASCE established the Excellence in Journalism Award to honor newspaper journalists for outstanding articles that enhance public understanding of the role and impact of civil engineering in designing solutions for clean water, transportation, the environment, and other public works projects. In 2006, the award was expanded to include journalists and producers from English-language, general-interest regional and national newspapers, radio and television stations, magazines, and electronic and web-based news outlets.