Past Issues of Government Technology

An Online Tour of State Depertments of Transportation

This article is derived from ITS Online's "On-Line Tour of State DOTs," which reviews all state DOT Internet sites and is updated regularly. The full tour, located at , includes links to all state DOT Web sites as well as over 150 links to selected highlights from those sites.

by / April 30, 1996 0
In the past year more and more state departments of transportation (DOT) have discovered the Internet, and now host their own Web or Gopher sites. We periodically visit every state DOT site we can locate on the Internet. We rank each site for overall effectiveness, and highlight the site's notable features and interesting or unusual content. Our ranking system is based on a combination of the following factors:

Overall information content and useful links on the site. ITS-related information content and site organization.
Information currency (how often is information updated or new information added?)
Full use of the Internet (does the site take advantage of the latest Internet/ Web technology?)
Below are highlights of the eight top-rated state DOT Internet sites.

ARIZONA
The Arizona Department of Transportation's (ADOT) Web site has recently undergone significant improvements. The site's initial emphasis on ADOT's Computer-Aided Engineering section has broadened considerably to include new traffic management and technology-related information.

A recent addition to this site is a page for Trailmaster, ADOT's freeway management system. The Trailmaster home page provides both "full graphics" and "low graphics" options for readers, a nice touch for those using a slower modem connection. This section also includes a "What's New" page. The Trailmaster Web pages include links to a wide variety of road speed/condition/ construction information in the Phoenix area, including:

A realtime traffic congestion map.
A "Document Reviews" section, which contains summaries and reviews of strategic documents dealing with the changing role of the federal DOT as well as state DOTs.
Information about the Freeway Management System (FMS) Phase II Deployment.
An ADOT phone list, as well as an e-mail database. (Unfortunately, the e-mail addresses in the list are not "live" in that you cannot send mail directly from your Web browser.)
CALIFORNIA
California Department of Transportation's (Caltrans) Web site has a wealth of home-grown content, as well as numerous links to other resources.

Caltrans' site includes information about which new technologies Caltrans focuses on, transit resources such as the Smart-Traveler site and a section called "What's New, Check It Out!"

One drawback with Caltrans' Web site -- and with most sites that contain a significant amount of information -- is that you have to do a lot of poking around to find information you're looking for. For example, several levels down from the home page is a page called California Highway Conditions that is maintained by Amdahl Corp. as a combination public-service and self-promotion effort. This page contains an incredible array of Web links, both to highway conditions as well as external weather, transportation and ski-condition information.

FLORIDA
Florida Department of Transportation's (FDOT) new Web site is one of the most visually appealing DOT sites on the Net, with full use of color graphics and colorful background images. The home page is clean and uncluttered, and hierarchically links to other pages. Most pages have a convenient menu of available choices at the bottom.

One of the first links you'll find deals with road construction. Be careful, though, the map at the bottom of the page is larger than 130KB! The map is used to show the locations of the various transportation districts. Below the map, users can select a separate page describing construction in each of the eight districts. The construction pages don't indicate when they were last updated, and only generally indicate when the construction will occur (e.g., fall, spring).

FDOT handles frequently asked questions a little different than some of the other DOT sites. Each of the questions links to another Web page (or another major section on the site) with answers and more information.

The "More About Florida DOT" page includes many links to other information on the site, including:

Recent news releases.
1996 legislative issues.
FDOT telephone directory including fax as well as phone numbers (but no e-mail addresses).
An extensive Florida Transportation Plan for the year 2020.
ILLINOIS
The Illinois Department of Transportation's (IDOT) Web site is not as flashy as some of the other top DOT sites, but it contains solid information for state residents and commercial users alike. The home page is straightforward, and includes links to nine different areas. Most notable are:

Press Releases -- a convenient repository of recent IDOT releases.
Departmental Overview -- an overview of IDOT, including a clickable state map to locate regional IDOT offices.
Statewide Program Planning Process -- which not only describes the process but includes highway improvement plans into the next century, complete with a detailed description of funding sources.
CADD Section -- which includes several different spec files that can be downloaded.
Roadway Restriction List for Trucks.
The most interesting link from an ITS perspective is the Gary-Chicago-Milwaukee Corridor Transportation Information Center home page, which is hosted for IDOT by the University of Illinois at Chicago Circle. Here, you'll find an Expressway Congestion Map (be careful -- it's over 160KB). Thankfully, a new condensed map (42KB) was recently added.

MONTANA
One might guess that the Montana Department of Transportation's (MDOT) Web site would be in the "Internet boondocks" when compared with sites hosted by the more populous states, but nothing could be further from the truth. This site is first-rate -- it is well organized and attractive, and is an excellent model for other state DOT sites. One note of caution: MDOT's Web site makes liberal use of the newest Web features, such as tables, so you'll need to use a Web browser that supports "HTML 3," such as Netscape, a recent version of Mosaic or Microsoft's Internet Explorer.

MDOT's Web site uses other leading-edge Web site techniques, including:

Scrollable selection forms, making many pages very compact.
A page counter that imitates a car's odometer.
Optional background graphics.
The site doesn't skimp on innovative content, either. MDOT has chosen to provide a ton of information in pages such as the Contractor System, Current Bid Invitations and Concise Road and Weather Reports.

TEXAS
The Texas Department of Transportation's (TxDOT) Web site includes a wealth of information about transportation in the lone-star state. Here are just a few of the highlights of TxDOT's site:

Inside TxDOT includes general departmental information.
Retooling TxDOT details what is often called "business process reengineering," and is an online version of a larger printed plan.
TxDOT News includes recent press releases, media advisories, and media contacts, as well as agendas and minutes from recent meetings of the Texas Transportation Commission.
Roads and Transportation Modes contains many useful links to the Houston realtime traffic report and the San Antonio TransGuide home page, and Global Positioning System (GPS) base station data, which can be downloaded via FTP.
Public Transportation Section includes information on publications, transit services and a calendar of events. This section also includes a rare audio link, entitled "Don't be an SOV (Single Occupant Vehicle)." To listen to this audio clip, make sure your Web browser is configured properly to play "Wave" files.
Travel and Tourism section is co-sponsored by TxDOT and the Texas Department of Commerce. Here you can find sightseeing information and a list of events for major cities and seven different regions.
WASHINGTON
Washington State Department of Transportation's (WSDOT) Internet site is unsurpassed in terms of the depth and breadth of its content and its full utilization of advanced Internet technologies. WSDOT's home page is simply loaded with information. A nice touch, with a home page this large, are the notations "New" (indicating a new link) and "More" (indicating that the link has recently been updated). The only problem with this site -- if one could call this a problem -- is that there's so much information online that surfing the entire site can take hours.

The first section you'll see is entitled Transportation Commission, which includes the agenda of the current/next commission meeting, minutes of past meetings, and information about the Washington State Transportation Policy Plan and multimodal Transportation Plan.

The Mountain Pass Report is updated daily, a particularly useful resource in the winter months.

WSDOT's server also hosts the Central Puget Sound Regional Transportation Authority's Web site, which is filled with useful schedule information and transit guidelines.

WSDOT is clearly a leader in providing realtime traffic information for its citizens. Besides a "traditional" traffic flow map showing Seattle area traffic, WSDOT has developed a more Internet-efficient Webflow system, a Winsock-compliant software package that requires users only to download traffic data (not graphics files that tend to be quite large) from the Net.

WSDOT's Traffic Systems Management Center has put a lot of effort into this site, and (in addition to the realtime traffic information) includes a map showing existing and future coverage of their traffic management system.

WSDOT's Research Page includes links to the home pages of several Washington state-area universities the department works closely with, as well as a What's New (in research) page and an extensive searchable database of WSDOT research reports.

Even WSDOT's employee phone directory extends what you'll see on many other DOT sites by including a search form in which you can specify the last and first name and location of the employee you're trying to locate. E-mail addresses are "active" addresses; if your Web browser is configured properly for "Mailto:" links you can send e-mail directly from your browser.

WISCONSIN
The Wisconsin Department of Transportation's (WisDOT) Web site went public on December 18, 1995, and it's a good effort. One of the first places you'll want to check out is "A Glance at Transportation in Wisconsin." The Programs and Services Web page includes a list of items, many of which do not yet contain additional information. WisDOT sends out its News Bulletin to employees via e-mail, and also makes it available on the Web site.

Information that is available (or linked) on WisDOT's site includes:

The Gary-Chicago-Milwaukee Corridor Transportation Information Center. (Wisconsin DOT partners with Illinois DOT and Indiana DOT in supporting this center.)
Injury Surveillance Using Linked Data, a project at the University of Wisconsin, Madison's Center for Health Research and Analysis sponsored by WisDOT's Office of Transportation Safety.
Frequently Asked Questions dealing mostly with vehicle registration and licensing information.
Detour and Construction Information, as well as a state weather forecast.
Inside WisDOT, which includes a diagram showing WisDOT's organizational structure. (This diagram is larger than 150KB!)
A four-part telephone guide organized by topic, not by name. The guide provides phone numbers only, not physical or e-mail addresses.

*
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

ITS Online
The Independent Forum for Intelligent Transportation Systems

On the Internet's World Wide Web at .

STATE DOT WEB SITES
Alaska .

Arizona .

California .

Florida .

Georgia .

Idaho .

Illinois .

Indiana .

Kansas .

Maryland .

Michigan
il addresses).
An extensive Florida Transportation Plan for the year 2020.
ILLINOIS
The Illinois Department of Transportation's (IDOT) Web site is not as flashy as some of the other top DOT sites, but it contains solid information for state residents and commercial users alike. The home page is straightforward, and includes links to nine different areas. Most notable are:

Press Releases -- a convenient repository of recent IDOT releases.
Departmental Overview -- an overview of IDOT, including a clickable state map to locate regional IDOT offices.
Statewide Program Planning Process -- which not only describes the process but includes highway improvement plans into the next century, complete with a detailed description of funding sources.
CADD Section -- which includes several different spec files that can be downloaded.
Roadway Restriction List for Trucks.
The most interesting link from an ITS perspective is the Gary-Chicago-Milwaukee Corridor Transportation Information Center home page, which is hosted for IDOT by the University of Illinois at Chicago Circle. Here, you'll find an Expressway Congestion Map (be careful -- it's over 160KB). Thankfully, a new condensed map (42KB) was recently added.

MONTANA
One might guess that the Montana Department of Transportation's (MDOT) Web site would be in the "Internet boondocks" when compared with sites hosted by the more populous states, but nothing could be further from the truth. This site is first-rate -- it is well organized and attractive, and is an excellent model for other state DOT sites. One note of caution: MDOT's Web site makes liberal use of the newest Web features, such as tables, so you'll need to use a Web browser that supports "HTML 3," such as Netscape, a recent version of Mosaic or Microsoft's Internet Explorer.

MDOT's Web site uses other leading-edge Web site techniques, including:

Scrollable selection forms, making many pages very compact.
A page counter that imitates a car's odometer.
Optional background graphics.
The site doesn't skimp on innovative content, either. MDOT has chosen to provide a ton of information in pages such as the Contractor System, Current Bid Invitations and Concise Road and Weather Reports.

TEXAS
The Texas Department of Transportation's (TxDOT) Web site includes a wealth of information about transportation in the lone-star state. Here are just a few of the highlights of TxDOT's site:

Inside TxDOT includes general departmental information.
Retooling TxDOT details what is often called "business process reengineering," and is an online version of a larger printed plan.
TxDOT News includes recent press releases, media advisories, and media contacts, as well as agendas and minutes from recent meetings of the Texas Transportation Commission.
Roads and Transportation Modes contains many useful links to the Houston realtime traffic report and the San Antonio TransGuide home page, and Global Positioning System (GPS) base station data, which can be downloaded via FTP.
Public Transportation Section includes information on publications, transit services and a calendar of events. This section also includes a rare audio link, entitled "Don't be an SOV (Single Occupant Vehicle)." To listen to this audio clip, make sure your Web browser is configured properly to play "Wave" files.
Travel and Tourism section is co-sponsored by TxDOT and the Texas Department of Commerce. Here you can find sightseeing information and a list of events for major cities and seven different regions.
WASHINGTON
Washington State Department of Transportation's (WSDOT) Internet site is unsurpassed in terms of the depth and breadth of its content and its full utilization of advanced Internet technologies. WSDOT's home page is simply loaded with information. A nice touch, with a home page this large, are the notations "New" (indicating a new link) and "More" (indicating that the link has recently been updated). The only problem with this site -- if one could call this a problem -- is that there's so much information online that surfing the entire site can take hours.

The first section you'll see is entitled Transportation Commission, which includes the agenda of the current/next commission meeting, minutes of past meetings, and information about the Washington State Transportation Policy Plan and multimodal Transportation Plan.

The Mountain Pass Report is updated daily, a particularly useful resource in the winter months.

WSDOT's server also hosts the Central Puget Sound Regional Transportation Authority's Web site, which is filled with useful schedule information and transit guidelines.

WSDOT is clearly a leader in providing realtime traffic information for its citizens. Besides a "traditional" traffic flow map showing Seattle area traffic, WSDOT has developed a more Internet-efficient Webflow system, a Winsock-compliant software package that requires users only to download traffic data (not graphics files that tend to be quite large) from the Net.

WSDOT's Traffic Systems Management Center has put a lot of effort into this site, and (in addition to the realtime traffic information) includes a map showing existing and future coverage of their traffic management system.

WSDOT's Research Page includes links to the home pages of several Washington state-area universities the department works closely with, as well as a What's New (in research) page and an extensive searchable database of WSDOT research reports.

Even WSDOT's employee phone directory extends what you'll see on many other DOT sites by including a search form in which you can specify the last and first name and location of the employee you're trying to locate. E-mail addresses are "active" addresses; if your Web browser is configured properly for "Mailto:" links you can send e-mail directly from your browser.

WISCONSIN
The Wisconsin Department of Transportation's (WisDOT) Web site went public on December 18, 1995, and it's a good effort. One of the first places you'll want to check out is "A Glance at Transportation in Wisconsin." The Programs and Services Web page includes a list of items, many of which do not yet contain additional information. WisDOT sends out its News Bulletin to employees via e-mail, and also makes it available on the Web site.

Information that is available (or linked) on WisDOT's site includes:

The Gary-Chicago-Milwaukee Corridor Transportation Information Center. (Wisconsin DOT partners with Illinois DOT and Indiana DOT in supporting this center.)
Injury Surveillance Using Linked Data, a project at the University of Wisconsin, Madison's Center for Health Research and Analysis sponsored by WisDOT's Office of Transportation Safety.
Frequently Asked Questions dealing mostly with vehicle registration and licensing information.
Detour and Construction Information, as well as a state weather forecast.
Inside WisDOT, which includes a diagram showing WisDOT's organizational structure. (This diagram is larger than 150KB!)
A four-part telephone guide organized by topic, not by name. The guide provides phone numbers only, not physical or e-mail addresses.

*
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

ITS Online
The Independent Forum for Intelligent Transportation Systems

On the Internet's World Wide Web at .

STATE DOT WEB SITES
Alaska .

Arizona .

California .

Florida .

Georgia .

Idaho .

Illinois .

Indiana .

Kansas .

Maryland .

Michigan .

Minnesota .

Montana .

New Jersey .

New York .

North Carolina .

North Dakota .

Ohio .

Oklahoma .

Oregon .

Pennsylvania .

South Dakota .

Tennessee .

Texas .

Utah .

Virginia .

Washington State .

Wisconsin .

Wyoming .

ITS Online is a combination newsletter, discussion forum, and "information central" for advanced transportation technology. Jerry Werner, editor-in-chief, can be reached via e-mail at .