GIS for Transportation: Principles, Data and Applications

3.5 Next Week's Webinar



Next week we will have a webinar with Mr. Greg Ulp. Greg is a Senior Project Manager with GeoDecisions, a division of Gannett Fleming specializing in GIS and IT. He has over 25 years of experience in applying spatial technologies to solve transportation problems and has worked with a number of state DOTs. Greg has worked extensively with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s GIS Division. He was the technical architect for a GIS application called the Multimodal Project Management System Interactive Query (MPMS-IQ) which is used to access and visualize data for the Department’s highway and bridge projects. Greg holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science from The Pennsylvania State University.

Transportation Planning

There are a number of transportation plans that regional planning organizations (MPOs and RPOs) and state DOTs are federally required to prepare and periodically update. These include the following:

  • Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP)
    An LRTP, also known as a Regional Transportation Plan (RTP), is a long term plan which is prepared by an MPO. It typically has a 20 to 30 year horizon and is updated every 3 to 5 years. The LRTP establishes priorities and long term objectives for the region.
  • Transportation Improvement Program (TIP)
    The TIP is a short-term plan, at least 4 years in length, which aligns with the policies and objectives defined in the LRTP. Each MPO is federally mandated (49 U.S.C. 5303(j)) to develop a TIP which includes all federally funded projects in addition to non-federally funded projects which are consistent with the LRTP. The TIP is required to be in line with available funding (i.e., fiscally constrained).
  • Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP)
    The STIP is a statewide roll-up of each of the TIPs across the state and is maintained and updated by the state DOT. The STIP is also federally mandated (23 U.S. Code § 135). Each state’s STIP is subject to approval by both the Federal Highways Administration (FHWA) and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) (two organizations we’ll take a look at in upcoming lessons).

Project Visualization Tools

In order to solicit feedback from the public on potential projects and to provide legislators and the public access to information on planned and active projects, state DOTs, Municipal Planning Organizations (MPOs) and Rural Planning Organizations (RPOs) sometimes use web-based GIS applications to enable people to visualize projects in a specific geographic area and get detailed information on a project of interest.

Watch this FHWA sponsored webcast on Visualizing TIPs and STIPs Using GIS which was held on April 27, 2016. It is a little rough in spots but is very informative. The presentation doesn’t actually start until about 7 ½ minutes in, due to some technical difficulties. In the webcast, PennDOT discusses three separate GIS-based project visualization applications which are used to provide the public and state legislators access to planned and active projects. All three applications have a consistent user interface and differ only in the types of projects they show. The first application shows active projects under construction, the second shows Act 89 projects which are projects of particular interest to state legislators and the third shows planned projects (i.e., projects on the STIP and TYP). All three applications can be accessed here.

Another organization which participated in the webcast was the Delaware Valley Planning Commission (DVRPC). DVRPC is an MPO which spans 9 counties in 3 states (Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware). In the webcast, DVRPC discussed how they make project information available through a Google Maps-based GIS application. Take some time to explore the 2017 DVPC TIP Visualization tool. In addition to using GIS to facilitate visualization of their transportation program, DVRPC also uses spatial technologies to evaluate potential projects for the TIP based on a variety of criteria they have developed.


MPMS-IQ is a web-based GIS application developed for PennDOT which allows users to visualize projects and access a wide variety of project related information via a map interface. The projects which are available through MPMS-IQ include active construction projects in addition to projects on PennDOT’s Twelve Year Plan (TYP). Unlike the STIP, the TYP is not federally mandated. The STIP corresponds to the first 4 years of the TYP. Take some time to explore MPMS-IQ. In particular, look at the methods by which users can search for projects, the information available for each project, and the additional layers and features the application provides.

Additional Learning

TELUS is a research and innovation program funded through a grant from the FHWA designed to create spatially-enabled tools to assist MPOs and state DOTs in preparing TIPs and performing other transportation planning functions. TELUS software is created and maintained by the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT). Information about the tools, including demos and download links, can be found here.

Assignment 3-6 (10 points)

After reviewing the background material for next week’s webinar, submit an M.S. Word document to Assignment 3-6 in Canvas which addresses the following items:

  1. In the “Visualizing TIPs and STIPs Using GIS” webcast, PennDOT discussed the “deep linking” functionality it provides in its 3 project visualization mapping applications. Describe what this means and provide a deep link for a project of your choice in Centre County, Pennsylvania. (2 points)
  2. What are some of the differences between MPMS-IQ and the 3 project visualization mapping applications available on PennDOT’s project page? (4 points)
  3. Describe some of the factors DVRPC considers in evaluating candidate projects for its TIP. (4 points)

Assignment 3-7 (5 points)

After reviewing the background material for next week's webinar and the biography for next week’s speaker, come up with 3-5 questions which are clearly stated and are relevant to the webinar topic. Submit the questions to Assignment 3-7 in Canvas.

Webinar Questions Rubric (5 points)
Criteria Ratings Points
Question Quality
Excellent: Questions were clearly worded, demonstrated a thorough review of the background material and thoughtful reflection and insight on the part of the student.
5.0 pts
Satisfactory: Questions were somewhat clear, demonstrated some review of the background material and some reflection and insight on the part of the student.
3.0 pts
Poor: Questions were unclear and/or demonstrated little or no review of the background material and/or demonstrated little or no reflection and insight on the part of the student.
1.0 pts
5.0 pts
Total Points: 5.0