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Federal Highway Administration > Publications > Public Roads > Vol. 72 · No. 5 > Internet Watch

Mar/Apr 2009
Vol. 72 · No. 5

Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-09-003

Internet Watch

by Alicia SindlingerWeb Site Simplifies Search for Construction Resources

Highway construction demands the time, talents, and efforts of numerous workers for meeting deadlines, safety requirements, and quality standards. However, the resources needed to perform these tasks and meet these challenges have not always been easily accessible. In an effort to make access more convenient, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) manages a Web site devoted to highway construction. For everything from technical guidance to available training, FHWA's "Construction" Web site brings together information in one easy-to-use, easy-to-find online location at www.fhwa.dot.gov/construction.

"The site provides one-stop shopping for all of FHWA's construction-related information," says Ken Jacoby, construction quality management engineer with FHWA's Office of Asset Management. "In the past, users had to go to multiple sites to find this information. In many cases, the various sites weren't even linked to each other, making it a challenge for someone to access all the information unless they knew the individual Web site addresses. The Construction Web site saves time and makes the information-gathering process more efficient."

According to Jacoby, the information on the site is useful to a wide variety of stakeholders including FHWA field offices, State departments of transportation, contractors and other industry representatives, academia, and others looking for highway construction-related information. "The goal is to get FHWA's information to the people who need it, whether that is one person or hundreds, industry professionals or students," says Jacoby.

Focus Areas

The Web site features six focus areas: (1) quality, (2) management and coordination, (3) construction details, (4) safety, (5) materials, and (6) contract administration. Each focus area includes information and resources such as publications, technical advisories, FHWA memoranda, factsheets, and FHWA's Construction Program Guide. FHWA selected the focus areas to represent the major functions in highway construction and organized the materials in a manner that is convenient for site users.

Additional highway construction-related information can be found in two other sections of the site. A resources section contains links to memos, publications, events, workshops and training, and other related topics, such as State transportation Web sites and FHWA's "National Traffic and Road Closure Information" site. The "About Construction" section includes a features list with links to resources such as accelerated construction guidelines, generic construction-related review guidelines, the "National Highway Specifications" Web site, and technical advisories. A sponsors list links to the Web sites of other FHWA programs and offices, including Asset Management, Bridge Technology, Safety, and Program Administration. This section also provides a comprehensive list of contacts, including FHWA staff, who can assist users in various topic areas, such as claims, contract administration, inspection techniques, partnering, process review, project review, quality assurance, and work zone and worker safety.

Building and Maintaining the Site

Launched in 2006, the Web site is maintained continuously and updated as new information becomes available. A team representing various units within FHWA, including the Office of Infrastructure, the Resource Center, and the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center, collected the information from many sources across FHWA and established the structure of the site. The team initially collected the majority of the content by identifying specific construction-related program areas and activities carried out by FHWA staff. The site's topic-based structure replaces an older, less extensive construction-related site that was organized according to the agency's organizational structure. In addition to being more user-friendly, the new topic-based structure facilitates adding new information without having to rearrange existing content or create new sections.

Officials plan to keep expanding the Web site as additional information becomes available or needs are identified. "The goal is to keep the content of the site up to date," says Jacoby. "Ultimately, we hope to be able to provide any materials that transportation professionals and stakeholders could ever need on highway construction, right in this one location."

Screenshot of the FHWA Construction Web site.
Shown here is the FHWA "Construction" Web site.

Alicia Sindlinger is a contributing editor for Public Roads.

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