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Subject: ACTION: National Highway Specifications Web Site Date: October 24, 2008
From: Butch Wlaschin
Director, Office of Asset Management
Reply To Attn. of:
To: Federal Lands Highway Division Engineers
Acting Resource Center Director
Division Administrators

This Memorandum is to inform you of recent updates to the National Highway Specifications Web site (NHSW). The NHSW serves as a clearinghouse and electronic library of the most current approved highway construction specifications and other specification-related information. The FHWA, in partnership with AASHTO, originally release the NHSW in 2003 to better serve the highway construction community's need for national access to the latest approved construction specifications.

The Office of Asset Management has recently updated the NHSW to provide greatly increased content and to make it more users friendly. The updated public Web site can be accessed at www.specs.fhwa.dot.gov. Users can now search, review, cross-reference, and download not only current standard specifications, but also innovative and emerging specifications and construction manuals from various agencies. Although the site is maintained by the FHWA, the materials on the site have been submitted by State Dots' and other agencies. The updated site contains the following three main sections:

  • Specifications -This section allows users to browse both approved standard and innovative/emerging highway construction specifications by agency, or search specifications by keyword.
  • Construction Manuals -This section allows users to browse Construction Manuals by agency, or search manuals by keyword.
  • Standard Drawings -This section contains links to Standard Drawings on State DOT Web sites.

The site also provides additional resources, such as links to State specification Web sites, State alternative contracting Web sites, and State Construction Manual Web sites.

The NHSW system is designed to allow authorized State DOT personnel to upload, alter, or delete their agency's specifications, construction manuals, and links to standard drawings as needed to maintain an up-to-date library of the latest specifications available for their State. Upload procedures have been greatly simplified in the update of the NHSW to make it very easy for States to upload their most recent documents.

A 1½ hour webinar has been prepared to help familiarize State and division personnel with the new Web site and the new upload procedures. The webinar will provide details on how to access and use the new NHSW, how to upload or replace documents on the NHSW, and creating Section 508 accessible documents. Two sessions of the webinar have been scheduled as shown below:

1st webinar session
Date: Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Time: 1:00 -2:30 Eastern Time
Registration Link

2nd webinar session
Date: Thursday, December 11, 2008
Time: 1:00 -2:30 Eastern Time
Registration Link

The webinars will be beneficial for both division and State staff. The divisions are strongly encouraged to participate in the webinar, and to coordinate with their State DOT counterparts to ensure that States fully participate.

FHWA Division Responsibilities

While the NHSW system allows State DOT personnel to update their own approved specifications, the FHWA divisions play a critical role in maintaining the integrity of the system and in providing access to the system. The division responsibilities are summarized below:

NHSW Access

The NHSW system allows State DOT's to manage their own agency specifications located on the Web site. However, in order to access the NHSW system, the State DOT must grant access rights by their division office. The complete process for obtaining access rights is outlined in the online document "Accessing FHWA Information Systems." Once granted, the user's access rights will allow full access to the administrative functions of the NHSW.

Specification Review and Approval

The NHSW currently contains the latest approved specifications available for each State DOT and the FHWA Federal Lands Highway Divisions. This information will soon become outdated, however, as the States continue to refine and update their specifications. To ensure that the NHSW remains up-to-date with the latest specifications available, it is essential that the State Dots’ update the NHSW with new any specifications after they are approved by the division office.

The FHWA Divisions have delegated authority for reviewing and approving the State's construction specifications. These delegations are outlined in the FHWA Delegations Manual, Chapter 5, and are allowed by 23 CFR 630 Subpart B. As part of the division's specification review and approval process, the divisions should actively work with their State counterparts to ensure that all updated specifications are placed on the NHSW.

If you have questions concerning the NHSW, please contact Mr. Ken Jacoby at (202) 366-6503.

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Updated: 10/27/2015
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