GEOG 497C
GIS for Transportation: Principles, Data and Applications

5.2 Getting to Know a Transportation Organization

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This week, we’ll take some time to explore state Departments of Transportation (DOTs). All 50 states have a department of transportation and while there are many similarities between them, they can differ in both how they are organized and in the specific functions they perform. A convenient set of links for all 50 state DOTs is maintained by the USDOT’s National Transportation Library.

The origins of most state DOTs trace back to the early 1900s. At that time they were commonly named State Highway Departments and, as the name implies, their focus was almost exclusively on highways. In the 100 or so years since then, their roles have evolved and the responsibilities have increased dramatically. Today, state DOTs typically operate or oversee all modes of transportation within the state and the scope of their functional responsibilities have grown from engineering and construction to include planning, safety, assessment and mitigation of project impacts on the environment and community resources, driver’s licensing and vehicle registration, permitting and providing technical support and oversight for local roads. A good summary of the roles and responsibilities of a state DOT is provided in Chapter 2 of the National Cooperative Highway Research Program’s (NCHRP) Report No. 750 titled “Strategic Issues Facing Transportation, Volume 5: Preparing State Transportation Agencies for an Uncertain Energy Future (2014).”

Given the extensive number of functions a state DOT is responsible for performing, there are a tremendous number of opportunities for applying spatial technologies, some of which we have looked at already (FHWA maintains a searchable compilation of state GIS-T projects). Consequently, state DOTs have a substantial need for GIS expertise although the degree to which these needs are outsourced varies. GIS expertise within the DOT is often housed in their planning or information technology organizations. AASHTO maintains a list of GIS-T contacts for each state.

Assignment 5-3 (15 points)

Spend some time learning about a state DOT of your choice. You may want to begin by reviewing their website. Identify an interesting way the DOT is using spatial technologies. You might choose to review an existing project or GIS application the department uses. Also, do a little research to find out where in the organization structure GIS services and expertise are housed. Prepare a brief summary of what you learned which is no more than 300 words in length and submit it as an M.S. Word document to Assignment 5-3 in Canvas. Include a screenshot or two, if appropriate.

Review and Respond (15 points)
Criteria Ratings Pts
Followed Instructions Excellent: Student carefully followed all instructions for the assignment.
4.0 pts
Satisfactory: Student's submission exhibited some minor deviations from the instructions for the assignment.
2.5 pts
Poor: Student's submission exhibited major deviations from the instructions for the assignment.
1.0 pts
4.0 pts
Content Quality Excellent: Student's submittal fully addressed the topics of the assignment and demonstrated insight and thoughtful reflection on the part of the student.
7.0 pts
Satisfactory: Student's submittal partially addressed the topics of the assignment and demonstrated some insight and thoughtful reflection on the part of the student.
5.0 pts
Poor: Student's submittal did not address the topics of the assignment and demonstrated little or no insight or thoughtful reflection on the part of the student.
1.0 pts
7.0 pts
Writing Quality Excellent: Student’s writing was organized, clear, and concise and was free from spelling and grammatical errors.
4.0 pts
Satisfactory: Student’s writing exhibited some deficiencies in the area of organization, clarity, and conciseness and/or contained a few spelling or grammatical errors.
2.5 pts
Poor: Student’s writing exhibited major deficiencies in the area of organization, clarity, and conciseness and/or contained many spelling or grammatical errors.
1.0 pts
4.0 pts
Total Points: 15.0