PennDOT's District 6, based in Montgomery County, wanted to modernize the way it tracked its Adopt A Highway program.
Using a highlighter on a paper map to determine which roads had or had not been adopted just seemed old fashioned, not to mention time-consuming, cumbersome and not always current.
Darren Altemose, the district roadside supervisor, asked Neal Kerrigan, the roadway programs specialist, about possible benefits of using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to map and track Adopt A Highway activity in the district.
At the time, in 2017, using GIS to map maintenance projects was relatively new. Like mapping snow routes, Kerrigan said, GIS analyzed the data and isolated areas where groups overlapped and where there were no groups assigned.
Kerrigan then joined forces with Marilyn Musiowski, the Bucks County Adopt A Highway coordinator, who had already collected all the data on the district's program.
Together, they downloaded layer upon layer upon layer of information into the computer, including which roads had been adopted, which hadn't, which were state-owned roads, what type of group had volunteered, and so forth.
The eventual result was a new system that can produce an up-to-date map in less than two hours. They created maps and shared them with county coordinators.
"The method proved much less labor intensive and more accurate than the methods being used at the time," Kerrigan said. "However, the goal wasn't to keep updating these maps in this fashion. It was to create a model for Central Office to see how it was possible to automatically create layers through the system."
Musiowski's work with the Adopt A Highway program has earned her PennDOT's Star of Excellence. In addition to her work with the mapping systems, Kerrigan said Musiowski helped get other counties more organized and advanced its efficiency throughout the district.
"After all," Kerrigan said, "it takes dedicated district and county staff to help make these programs work.''
While "processes are ever-evolving and hopefully improving," Kerrigan said, "it allowed PennDOT's Adopt A Highway Program to advance to better practices." The process the district created was used until Central Office created an online portal connected to the user sign-up page.
It also demonstrated that "WorkSmart can be utilized as a form of communication with Central Office and across PennDOT when one is uncertain who to contact,'' to share a solution, Kerrigan said.
District 6 shared this smart practice through PennDOT WorkSmart, an online system, accessible 24/7, that provides all PennDOT employees with a forum to share their smart practices, or things they are already doing as part of their normal work day, with their fellow PennDOT employees.
PennDOT WorkSmart is administered by PennDOT's Bureau of Innovations (BOI). For more information, contact DOTInnovations@pa.gov.
Click here to learn more about PennDOT's Adopt A Highway Program.