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: