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Case Study: North Carolina Department of Transportation Statewide Transportation Improvement Program

North Carolina Department of Transportation State Transportation Improvement Program 2006-2012 logo

The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) offers an electronic version of its Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) through its website. The web site offers interactive maps, PDF maps and PDF STIP project listings for each of the state's 14 divisions.

Benefits

  • Money is saved through fewer print copies being mailed and produced
  • Less staff time is spent answering questions from the public and the public is generally more educated on projects

Features

  • Interactive map with project specific pop-up windows gives information on each STIP project
  • Public comment form allows users to communicate directly with NCDOT staff about STIP projects

Development

  • Software costs of less than $1,000
  • 240 person hours for initial launch, fewer than 40 maintenance hours per year

I. Introduction

The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) offers an electronic version of its Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) through its website. The first electronic STIP (ESTIP) was introduced in 1999 in conjunction with an update of the paper STIP. The ESTIP was developed in order to increase the availability of the STIP without producing more paper copies. As a result of the ESTIP, the public has become more informed and NCDOT has saved money and time that was associated with mailing paper copies and answering questions on the phone. NCDOT has created and maintained the ESTIP in-house at moderate costs.

The web site offers interactive maps, PDF maps and PDF STIP project listings for each of the state's 14 divisions 1. There are a total of 3,700 projects included in the ESTIP. Users can download the PDFs and use the interactive map to find specific information about the highway project of their choice. Additionally, there are links to recent amendments and a public comment form.

II. Benefits

The ESTIP offers several benefits to NCDOT and users of the system. These benefits include the following:

  • NCDOT saves staff time and money by mailing fewer print copies than before the ESTIP was developed. NCDOT currently provides about 900 print copies to cities, counties, governmental agencies and other interested parties. This is fewer than in past years and NCDOT is looking to decrease the number further by promoting the ESTIP.
  • NCDOT has observed that the ESTIP has saved staff time by allowing the public to go directly to the web site instead of calling with questions. When citizens do call with questions, they are often more specific and can be answered quickly because the citizens have visited the ESTIP web site.
  • NCDOT incurred relatively low costs for development of the ESTIP. By using simple off-the-shelf software programs and in-house staff.

III. Features

A. Division Homepage
NCDOT's ESTIP is organized by division. Each division has a web page (example shown below) that includes the following:

  • A list of counties included in the division
  • A link to a PDF list of the STIP projects
  • A link to a PDF map of STIP projects
  • A link to an interactive map of projects
This figure is a screenshot of the NCDOT Division 1 ESTIP web page.  It has links to all of the other division ESTIP web pages in a column to the left.  In the main frame, the counties included in division 1 are listed.  There are links to a PDF of STIP projects for the division and a division map in both html format and PDF format.
Figure 1: Screenshot of the NCDOT Division 1 ESTIP web page

B. Interactive Map
The interactive division map shows all funded STIP highway projects in the division. Transit, pedestrian, and bicycle projects are not included on the maps. Below is a screenshot of the interactive map for NCDOT division 13. Users can click on each project number and a fact sheet with a more specific map will open in a new window. The fact sheet is described and shown in the next section.

This is a screenshot of the NCDOT Division 13 interactive STIP map.  It includes color-coded projects on the map on which users can click for a popup window with more information.  Interstate projects are blue; rural projects are green; urban projects are orange; and bridge replacement projects are red.
Figure 2: Screenshot of NCDOT Division 13 interactive STIP map

C. Project Fact Sheets When users click on a project from the interactive map, a project fact sheet opens in a new window. A sample project fact sheet is shown below. Each fact sheet has a more detailed map of the STIP project as well as all available project details such as cost, schedule and work type.

This is a screenshot of a project fact sheet that opens whne users click on a project on the interactive map.  The fact sheet has a map at the top followed by project information including: work type, funding, estimated cost, schedule, prior costs, total estimated costs, length in miles; and any comments.
Figure 3: Screenshot of NCDOT ESTIP project specific fact sheet and map

D. STIP and Map PDFs
For each division, NCDOT provides a list of the projects and a division map showing the projects, both in PDF form. These two PDFs are useful for printing and downloading purposes. Links to these PDFs are provided on each ESTIP division homepage.

E. Public Comment Form
One of the more useful features for users and NCDOT staff is the public comment form. The first part of the form is shown below. Users are able to electronically submit questions and comments to NCDOT staff. Comments are submitted directly to one of three squad leaders who each cover one of the three regions in the state. Each region contains multiple divisions. The graphic below shows the top of the public comment form which includes the geographic boundaries of each division. NCDOT reports that usage of the comment form is usually highest directly after the release of a new ESTIP. NCDOT has received as many as 10 to 20 comments per day after an ESTIP release, but generally receives about one comment per day. NCDOT staff respond via email to every comment received.

This is a screenshot of the NCDOT STIP public comment form.  The form has a map of the regions at the top that also shows which divisions and counties are included in each region.  There are radio buttons below the map for users to direct their comments to specific region.  There are fill-in field below this for TIP number, County and a larger field for the specific comment.
Figure 4: Screenshot of NCDOT ESTIP Public Comment Form

F. CD ROM
NCDOT offers a CD-ROM version of its ESTIP, which is adopted every two years. The CD-ROM offers the same functionality and content as the web site with the exception of the search engine. NCDOT plans to increasingly offer the CD-ROM version of its STIP in place of the printed version to save costs. The Board of Transportation amends the STIP almost every month. The amendments are accessible on the web site under "Board of Transportation Amendments".

G. Search Tool
The NCDOT ESTIP web site offers a search tool to find STIP projects. Users can search by county or by keyword. County searches yield a list of all projects within the specified county. Search results are in the form of a table and include the project number, the route or city location, the county, the division, and a brief description of the project.

IV. Development

NCDOT first introduced its ESTIP in 1999. The product was developed entirely in-house without the aid of a consultant. NCDOT used web development software including Microsoft FrontPage and graphics software including Jasc Paint Shop Pro. The software products cost under $1,000 in total. NCDOT did not calculate an exact dollar amount for development costs related to labor but estimates that it required 240 person hours to create the site initially. Over 3,000 electronic maps were created in the original development phases. Maintenance currently requires fewer than 40 person hours per year. Updating the site with STIP amendments usually requires only a few minutes.

V. Challenges and Lessons Learned

NCDOT's ESTIP has been well received and has not faced any major issues. The largest challenge was the workload of creating all of the initial base maps. NCDOT staffed multiple people for this task and was able to complete it in a timely manner. NCDOT staff are also challenged to keep the web site interesting and new, but also stay within the NCDOT web guidelines.

In order to make sure that the STIP stays current, NCDOT staff meets annually with each of the 17 MPO's to review their individual local TIP's and discuss their transportation priorities. In addition, NCDOT has a TIP Amendment process established that allows each of the MPO's to be informed of any changes that would require their concurrence. This process also allows the MPO to make NCDOT aware of any proposed changes.

VI. Next Steps

NCDOT has a major improvement it is planning to make that will save time for NCDOT staff. Currently, all of the data on the project specific fact sheets are entered by hand. This is a time consuming process and potentially requires changes every time there is an amendment. NCDOT plans to connect the project fact sheets to a database to automatically pull the relevant information. When the database is updated, the project fact sheet page will automatically be updated with no extra effort from NCDOT staff. NCDOT plans to complete this update in 2006. NCDOT is also considering adding a TIP by MPO to the web site at some point in the future.

VII. Contact Information

Brian Padfield, North Carolina Department of Transportation
919-733-2039
bpadfield@dot.state.nc.us


1 Each division contains multiple contiguous counties all within the state of North Carolina. (back)

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