Vermont Route Log & Progress Chart

View Live Map →

Why We Love It

Here we see fine-grained detail for every location along a Vermont roadway. It’s a lot of thematic data presented in a unique, intuitive way. If this were a traditional map, it would not be possible to visualize so much information without clutter from too many symbols. We love how this map, really a straight-line diagram, flattens the route into a series of categorized lines, stacked so each vertical cross-section connects multiple variables to one location on the road.

Why It Works

Good decisions come when we integrate and relate many kinds of information to understand relationships between parts and the whole. This map facilitates that by showing 50 different thematic layers for a single highway. It solves an age-old cartographic problem of how to show lots of data in a limited, static display. Each vertical cross-section paints a clear and complete picture of the complex conditions for any location along Vermont’s transportation corridor.

Important Steps

Every year 1,600+ route logs, representing 5,000+ miles of Vermont highways, are generated. The “Route Log System” is a map automation tool consisting of a single map document template and a suite of Python scripts that pre-process the data and automate map production.

Routes are represented as straight lines with a built-in linear referencing system (LRS). Highway data is rendered along those routes using dynamic segmentation (DynSeg), located by route and mile marker instead of X and Y coordinates.

The template has 16 data frames, about 80 data layers, and 150+ layout elements (text, graphics, legends, etc.), each carefully selected.

ArcGIS automation scripts leverage data attribute values to update dataframe extents, layer definition queries, and text elements to produce each route log.

Data pre-processing scripts create the straight line routes and boundary lines, merge datasets shown in the stick diagram, assign predefined offsets to street names and station labels, highway data onto straight line routes, and convert to feature classes.

Noteworthy challenges addressed by the Route Log System include working with multiple linear referencing systems (LRSs), managing co-located routes, displaying gaps in the route system, summarizing highway statistics by page, and integrating data from multiple SDE databases, geodatabases, shapefiles, and Excel documents.

Requirements

Data

The route logs integrate approximately 50 internal data sources including road centerlines, m-enabled routes, route definitions, structures, rail crossings, municipalities, urban areas, maintenance areas, road widths and base, curves, grades, historic projects, speed zones, functional class, national highway system classifications, traffic counts, counters, and crash data. The route logs also show the Vermont Hydrography Dataset.

Analysis

The Route Log System’s Python scripts incorporate ArcGIS geoprocessing tools and toolboxes: Summary Statistics, Dissolve, Minimum Bounding Geometry, Linear Referencing Toolbox, Data Management Toolbox, and Conversion Toolbox.

Time

The Route Log System took a fledgling GIS Specialist about six months to develop. Each PDF takes about three minutes to produce.

Multiple Data Frames and Symbol

Tips

Multiple data frames and symbol offsetting can vertically separate overlapping data into parallel arrangements.

Regular Gridlines

Tips

The use of regular gridlines helps readers visually line up content as they scan vertically.

Hatch Layer Properties

Tips

Hatch layer properties customize the display of measures along specific kinds of routes.

Map Author

Kerry Alley

Kerry Alley

@KerryAlley

Kerry Alley is a Mapping & GIS Specialist with the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans). Her expertise includes using Python scripting to automate map production, creating custom ArcMap tools, and generating Straight Line Diagrams.

Start making maps with a free 60-day trial of ArcGIS.

Try ArcGIS →