Artistic inspiration occurred on the school bus for sixth grader Spencer Ramirez, who transferred his vision of the Springfield Interchange into the winning design for the Interchange Information T-shirt contest.
Now his impression of the interchange done in magic markers, and involving bridges, ramps and cars, will be on a promotional T-shirt, coming out later this summer, according to interchange information specialist Steve Titunik.
Spencer, 12, was riding with a friend from Springfield Estates Elementary School, tossing around ideas for the design.
"My friend and I were making up ideas, that was just one of my favorite ideas," he said.
Tom Farley, Virginia Department of Transportation's Northern Virginia Regional District Administrator, was on hand to recognize Spencer and the T-shirt.
"We had 150 entries and yours came out number one; he gets the distinction that we will get to call on. Art is a fun thing to get involved with," Farley said.
The Ramirez family was on hand for the award, which included a plaque, a gift certificate from Foot Locker, a gift certificate from Bed, Bath and Beyond, and movie tickets. Spencer's twin sister, Kellie, sees her brother's artistic skills come out from time to time.
"He draws pictures of monsters," she said.
Cindy Ramirez, mother, remembered a not-so-good grade Spencer recently got in basket weaving.
"Basket weaving is not his thing. She's [Kellie] actually pretty artistic too, he's an idea guy," she said.
Second place winner was Badhan Sarker and third place was Cristian Soto-Paz, both sixth graders from Lynbrook Elementary School. Lynbrook teacher Julie Sagatov introduced the project to the students.
"I gave them ideas to what the interchange meant," she said.
Sarker also drew the design for Lynbrook's yearbook cover this year.
"She's quite famous this year," Sagatov said.
Although recent price estimates and traffic back-ups around the interchange have drawn some negative connotations, Sagatov just wanted them to focus on their observations. She used a picture of the completed interchange off the internet for them to look at.
"They're not the ones that drive it," she said.
Titunik looked at the potential of the appearance of this shirt with their phone number and website on it.
"It's a walking billboard for us," Titunik said.
The Interchange Information office sponsored T-shirts for Supervisor Dana Kauffman's "Tour De Lee" last year, which was a bicycle ride of the Lee District area.