The National Academies

NCHRP 08-174 [Anticipated]

Development of a Surveying and Mapping Guide for Transportation Projects

  Project Data
Funds: $600,000
Staff Responsibility: Jennifer L. Weeks
Fiscal Year: 2023

This project has been tentatively selected and a project statement (request for proposals) is expected to be available on this website. The problem statement below will be the starting point for a panel of experts to develop the project statement.

Many state transportation and federal agencies have their own surveying and mapping standards. However, no single nationwide surveying and mapping standard is recognized by the industry.  The adoption of a national surveying and mapping standard would ensure spatial consistency, improve efficiency, minimize errors, and reduce duplication efforts within and among agencies. Research is needed to identify the most effective and efficient surveying and mapping practices that could be adopted into a nationwide standard.

There are many reasons why a national standard is desirable and why this research is needed to help provide the framework for such a standard. They include:

  •     The 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) requires USDOT to promote, implement, deploy, demonstrate, showcase, support, and document the application of advanced digital construction management systems (ADCMS) to enhance project execution;
  •       Impending modernization of the National Spatial Reference System (NSRS), defined by the Office of Management and Budget’s Circular A-16 as “the fundamental geodetic control for the United States”; its use is required for all federal agencies creating geographic information. Included in the NSRS modernization is the anticipated replacement the North American Datum of 1983, the State Plane Coordinate System of 1983, and all existing NSRS vertical datums with new terrestrial reference frames and a new geopotential (vertical) datum. The National Geodetic Survey (NGS) announced in Federal Register Notice 85 FR 44864 that it will complete modernization of the NSRS by 2025.
  •      National Institute of Standards and Technology and NGS announced a joint decision in Federal Register Notice 84 FR 55562 to deprecate use of the U.S. survey foot on 12/31/2022. After that date, the international foot will be adopted for all applications throughout the United States, including the modernized NSRS. The U.S. survey foot is currently used by 44 states

The objective of this research is to create a national surveying and mapping guide for state departments of transportation (state DOTs) that clearly specifies practices that are consistent with the NSRS.  The goal is to provide the details of practices that if widely adopted by State DOTs, could ensure geospatial data are reliability and efficiently captured, shared, and reused. 

Tasks may include the following. (1) Literature Review and State-of-the-Practice Survey; (2) Identify institutional needs for efficient capture and sharing of reliable geospatial data; (3) Develop case studies that demonstrate the impact of the datum shift and deprecation of the U.S. survey foot on both future data collection efforts and conversion of legacy data to the new NSRS; (4) Develop a return on investment (ROI) methodology to show the benefits and make the business case for adoption and effective use of updated geospatial technologies; (5) Prepare a guidebook on surveying and mapping that covers effective data collection, processing, management strategies, and different accuracy and resolution requirements for common applications. 

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