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Federal Highway Administration / Publications / Focus / January/February 2009

Accelerating Infrastructure Innovations

Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-09-010
Date: January/February 2009

Your One-Stop Source for National Highway Specifications Information

Since 2003, the National Highway Specifications Web site (NHSW) has provided users with a fully searchable, electronic library of information on highway construction specifications for all 50 States, Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, and Federal Lands and Highways. "As a one-stop source for specification information, the Web site has saved users time and money, while improving practices and promoting higher quality in construction end products," says Ken Jacoby of the Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) Office of Asset Management.

Recent updates to the NHSW (http://specs.fhwa.dot.gov/nhswp/) have made it even more user friendly, offering an array of easily searchable documents, including standard specifications, construction manuals, standard drawings, innovative contracting methods, and special provisions for new and emerging materials and technologies. With updates completed in late 2008, the site now contains the most current specifications and construction manuals for each transportation agency.

The NHSW was launched as the result of an American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials Highway Subcommittee on Construction resolution to build a one-stop source of specification information. "The goal was to make the combined knowledge of the many agencies that produce and publish highway construction specifications available and accessible to all," says Jacoby. "Easy access to such information was seen as a key step in promoting and facilitating the development of best practices in the highway industry."

Figure 1. Photo. An aerial view of a highway construction site.
Visit www.specs.fhwa.dot.gov for an electronic library of highway construction specifications.

"There is a high payoff in assisting States and industry in minimizing unnecessary differences and specification inconsistencies from State to State," says Jim Sorenson of FHWA's Office of Asset Management. "This reduces bidding errors, misunderstandings, and construction costs."

The NHSW site is maintained by FHWA, with material submitted by State departments of transportation and other agencies.

"The NHSW is a great resource. It brings it all together in one place for you," says Duane Brautigam of the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT). Florida has uploaded resources to the site and also has a link to it on FDOT's Web site. "The addition of design standard drawings and construction administration documents has been very helpful. It gives you a good picture of how a State transportation department does business," notes Brautigam.

The Web site features both a public area, where visitors can search and browse specifications, construction manuals, standard drawings, and related links, and an administrative area, where authorized personnel from State transportation agencies can upload, revise, and delete information to maintain an up-to-date library of the latest specifications and related documents available for their State. The updated NHSW has simplified the process for uploading information, making it easy for States to revise and add to their specifications and other material. Additional improvements include better and faster search capabilities, including searchable libraries of innovative specifications and construction manuals. All specifications and construction manuals can be looked up by agency or searched by keyword. Also added were more links to related Web sites and State standard drawings, as well as contact information for State specification engineers that is accessible to State personnel with authorized administrative login access.

The improvements are the result of a research effort FHWA launched in 2006 to determine how to best enhance the site. This effort included polling users to obtain feedback on both the existing Web site and proposed enhancements, evaluating the existing NHSW to identify areas in need of improvement, and reviewing State transportation department Web sites to verify that the information posted on the NHSW was reflective of current practices.

To learn more about the resources available on the NHSW, visit www.specs.fhwa.dot.gov. To set up administrative access for your agency, contact your FHWA division office. For more information on the NHSW, contact Ken Jacoby at FHWA, 202-366-6503 (email: ken.jacoby@fhwa.dot.gov)).

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Updated: 06/27/2017
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