AASHTO and ASTM Partner for Transportation Portal
A vehicle moves along an interconnected transportation system. It’s the bridge over the local creek, a tunnel through the mountain, the road to the horizon.
Underpinning this infrastructure is guidance from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials and ASTM International in the form of standards and related services. Now, through a partnership between AASHTO and ASTM, comes a single portal product with one access point to technical information for roads, bridges and more from both groups.
Edward Hughes, metals and miscellaneous coordinator for the Illinois’ Department of Transportation, Springfield, Illinois, can point fellow DOT transportation workers to the portal; before, he might have to read a specification over the phone to workers in the field, he says. That’s a benefit of the portal. Hughes adds, “The portal makes it a universal product for all of the Illinois DOT,” says Hughes. That means the nine districts, not just the main DOT location, and some 3,500 employees can get to the information.
The AASHTO-ASTM portal collects technical information in both html and pdf formats onto one searchable platform. (See below for highlights of portal resources.)
All portal documents have been indexed according to ASTM’s recently implemented structured subject categories, or taxonomy, based on key words. Of particular note are the hyperlinks in the documents, enabling every transportation professional, consultant, member DOT, supplier or contractor to easily navigate between one document and another.
For example, Hughes says he looks at 300 different materials for his job, each having at least one specification. The portal streamlines locating the relevant specifications and related test methods.
The portal also features:
- Tools to add notes, images and attachments to share with others;
- The ability to integrate DOT practices and procedures;
- Version comparison for active and historical versions of standards;
- An email alert service for new and revised documents; and
- An e-learning and learning management system.
“It’s a value-added product,” says Erin Grady, director of publications production for AASHTO in Washington, D.C. It’s paperless and searchable. And, “it’s a more streamlined way of accessing information. It cuts down on searching in different places,” she says.
Consultants, member DOTs and their contractors, and outside groups, which use both AASHTO and ASTM standards, can go to this one product and find the necessary information for their projects.
There’s a breadth of information in one place that’s updated on a regular basis, notes Grady.
Then and Now
AASHTO and ASTM International have long contributed to roads and bridges through guidance and standards used in building and maintaining infrastructure.
This year AASHTO celebrates a century of contributions, one that began with a meeting of 14 state highway engineers in Atlanta, Georgia. Their purpose: to talk about forming a group that would focus on “getting America out of the mud.”1
In 1898, the founding members of ASTM International first met to develop standards for testing steel, iron and other materials. Among those early works: a specification for railroad steel ties, terminology for road and paving materials, and tests for cement and concrete properties.
From these early beginnings have grown libraries of documents that have kept pace with technology and continue to guide designers and engineers, contractors and repairmen, and more, in constructing and maintaining the country’s transportation system.
AASHTO is a practical resource for everything transportation, from asphalt testing to contract management, says Greta Smith, associate program director for project delivery in AASHTO’s engineering division. The group is a professional outlet for technicians and technologists, according to Smith. “AASHTO serves the transportation community exclusively — it’s their organization,” she says.
AASHTO advocates for transportation-related policies; it also offers technical services through its committees and programs that support states in their projects. AASHTO’s services range from evaluating products and implementing technologies to accreditation and materials reference, including product evaluation, materials test information and construction design standards.
ASTM International impacts work on transportation systems, with hundreds of standards addressing steel, concrete and asphalt for bridges and roads, pavement markers and striping, soil embankments and more. One technical committee looks particularly at the place where vehicle and pavement meet, another at how well the tiny glass spheres in paint reflect light back to a driver.
The portal brings together AASHTO and ASTM in a way that benefits the transportation sector. “For us and for infrastructure and for rebuilding, we need to pool our resources,” Smith says. “This is a good step forward for both organizations.