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South Dakota Department of Transportation
Project Synopsis

Title: A Location Referencing System to Support Data Integration
Project Researcher: Darrell Svalstad,
Project Manager: Daris Ormesher
Research Period: 5/1/1996 - 5/1/1997
Cost: $0.00

Problem Statement:South Dakota Department of Transportation (SDDOT) currently utilizes both linear and geodetic referencing methods. The linear method uses Mileage Reference Marker (MRM) and displacement with each MRM associated to a measured distance from the origin of the highway as described in SDDOTs MRM Policy Manual. The MRM system only exists on the state trunk highways. Geodetic methods are primarily used for surveying on engineering projects. State law requires the use of State Plane Coordinates on engineering projects. SDDOTs Roadway Design and Data Inventory offices also use Global Positioning Systems for surveying and data collection on selected projects.

The present referencing methods have several shortcomings:

  • The methods do not conveniently relate to each other. Data collected by one referencing method may not be usable in an application based on another method. If it cannot be conveniently cross-referenced, important data may not be used.

  • The historical consistency of referenced locations is difficult to maintain. Roadway realignments, repositioning of MRMs, highway renumbering, and transfer of highway ownership are some of the situations that do not allow historical data to be used without a substantial amount of manual review. Changes to the MRM file do not automatically update MRM references in other databases without additional editing and programming.

  • Not all methods accommodate special circumstances, such as coincident highways, divided highways, realignments, ramps, non-state trunk highways, and off-road attributes.

  • The current methods do not efficiently support relational databases, which would enhance the Departments capability to interact with other computer systems, such as the pavement management system, geographic information system, the Decision Mapping project and other systems using spatial technologies.

  • Past research studies have suggested that an location referencing system (LRS) is essential to efficiently and effectively manage transportation data. SDDOTs Historical Data Base Feasibility Study SD90-09 recommended that x,y,z coordinates and date and time be attached to most of the data items retained in the Roadway Environmental Subsystem (RES). SD90-09 also recommended that a distributed relational database would support SDDOTs data and computational requirements.

    SDDOT requires a standard location referencing system that will support multiple location referencing methods currently used by the Department. The standard location referencing system must:

  • unambiguously reference locations on and off roadway networks;

  • maintain compatibility with SDDOTs present linear and geodetic systems;

  • allow other state agencies to use the data

  • accommodate special circumstances

  • A strategy needs to be developed that outlines the procedural steps necessary to implement the standard linear referencing system. Important to implementing a standard LRS is a review of the hardware and software alternatives with an evaluation of the costs and benefits. The new system must be developed considering SDDOTs current procedures and institutional and fiscal constraints.


    Research Objectives:
    1  Define functional requirements for a standard location referencing system to support SDDOT’s linear and geodetic location referencing methods used by SDDOT. The system must support data exchange internally and with external agencies.
    2  Recommend a standard location referencing system to satisfy the functional requirements.
    3  Recommend a strategy (including hardware and software alternatives with benefits and costs) for adopting the referencing system, with consideration of SDDOT's current procedures and institutional and fiscal constraints.
    4  Recommend operational procedures for using and maintaining the proposed system.

    Research Tasks:
    1  Meet with the project's technical panel to review project scope and work plan.
    2  Review and summarize literature regarding location referencing systems and related issues.
    3  Identify SDDOT’s and associated external agencies’ current linear and geodetic referencing systems.
    4  Review SDDOT's current procedures for referencing, collecting, storing, extracting and depicting linear and geodetic data.
    5  Identify functional requirements of a standard location referencing system.
    6  Propose a standard location reference system to satisfy identified functional requirements and describe necessary procedural changes.
    7  Prepare and present to the technical panel an interim report defining the recommended standard location reference system and demonstrate its use on variously referenced data supplied by SDDOT.
    8  Define and evaluate alternative strategies (including hardware and software alternatives with benefits and costs) for adopting the referencing system, considering SDDOT’s current procedures and institutional and fiscal constraints.
    9  Recommend the preferred strategy and implementation plan for adopting the referencing system.
    10  Meet with and present to the technical panel the preferred strategy for implementation of the recommended location referencing system.
    11  Develop detailed operational and software procedures for establishing, using and maintaining the recommended alternative.
    12  Prepare a final report and executive summary of the literature review, research methodology, findings, conclusions, and recommendations.
    13  Make an executive presentation to the SDDOT Research Review Board at conclusion of the project.

    Documents Available:
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