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.
The ESTIP offers several benefits to NCDOT and users of the system. These benefits include the following:
A. Division Homepage
Figure 1: Screenshot of the NCDOT Division 1 ESTIP web page
B. Interactive Map
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.
Figure 3: Screenshot of NCDOT ESTIP project specific fact sheet and map
D. STIP and Map PDFs
E. Public Comment Form
Figure 4: Screenshot of NCDOT ESTIP Public Comment Form
F. CD ROM
G. Search Tool
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
1 Each division contains multiple contiguous counties all within the state of North Carolina. (back)