OK, Things are Different. How do I get the results I need?
Compatible Internet Browsers
Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome work well. Safari and Opera should work but I don't/can't test the website with them.
Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) must be used in "Compatibility View" mode, otherwise the search form features and drop downs won't work. This a specific, known problem with the non-standard way IE interprets HTML forms. All other major Internet browsers work correctly and do not require something called "Compatibility View" to be compatible with the Internet.
To set "Compatibility View" mode in IE please click the button with the picture of the broken page that is immediately to the right of the URL box in the IE Menu Bar. Search features will work correctly in IE Compatibility View.
The search query engine is less restrictive and offers some new features. The only required field is State. The old site had required combinations of query arguments that were more complex, mostly because the SQL queries generated were less efficient and the results table more primitive.
I'm adding new specialized search terms such as returning Structurally Deficient bridges. This is a popular data item because of the media publicity and danger of deteriorating transportation infrastructure. I want finding Structurally Deficient bridges to be one of the easiest possible searches.
"Structurally Deficient" is a status used to describe a bridge that has one or more structural defects that require attention. This status does not indicate the severity of the defect but rather that a defect is present.
Find All Structurally Deficient Bridges by County in a State:
- Select a state.
- Choose the "Structurally Deficient" button.
- Click Search.
- Group by County.
Places and Counties
Place search is currently not present. Counties must be searched by FIPS code. I've provided a County FIPS code reference for lookups. Click on "FIPS Codes" in the top menu bar and look for the desired county. Place name search is coming back, but there is more development to do.
In the new website I made some changes to the query arguments that retrieve records by route number. Right now you may get fewer results than you did before with the old site if you search on Route Number. The old query generated a complex SQL statement that made some good guesses about finding bridges associated with route numbers even if it wasn't explicitly defined in the RouteNumber record. At the same time the old query had a high overhead in CPU cost and SQL database efficiency, so I'm making it more efficient. I am tuning it for better results because I recognize the importance of finding overpasses of cross-routes and co-signed route numbers that aren't defined in the FHWA RouteNumber field.
Records aren't missing from the database, but you may have to search the NBI on broader terms and then search through the results table to find what you're looking for. Fortunately, the results table has new features that make this easy. Below are tips for finding records in the database using sort and grouping tools.
Design Construction & Material
These fields allow you to find specific types of bridges in your search. Used together they are a powerful tool for creating lists of categories of bridges such as covered bridges or stone arch bridges. Below are some examples.
Find all the Covered Bridges in Vermont:
- Select State = "Vermont"
- Select Design Construction = "Truss - Thru"
- Select Material = "Wood"
Find all the Stone Arch bridges in New Hampshire:
- Select State = "New Hampshire"
- Select Design Construction = "Arch - Deck"
- Select Material = "Masonry"
Tips for Using the Results Table
The new interface is designed so that the results grid is VERY flexible and can be sorted and grouped on the fly. You can manipulate the whole table after you generate it. This is one of the most powerful features of the new website. Here are examples of how to use two of the most useful new table features:
- Search the NBI by County FIPS. You'll get a big table of bridge records.
- Sort by Place, RouteNumber, YearBuilt or something helpful. You can do this by clicking on the column title bar above any column. The table will order the results automatically.
All the fields in the table work the same way.
- Search the NBI by RouteNumber alone in any state.
- Hover the mouse cursor on the "County" title bar. A down-arrow will appear. Click that down arrow and there is a menu. Click "Group by This Field." This gathers all the records into County groups to visually organize them. You can collapse and expand the groups as you please.
Results tables can be printed!
At the bottom of the table to the right of the Page controls, and just to the right of the refresh button is a small, light-colored print button. Click this to generate a printed table of the results.
Warning: It will send ALL the results to the printer, even if your query returned hundreds of matches.
There are more features coming soon. I'm working on finishing the bridge detail record view page so that it contains all the variables it used to have and more.
Let me know if you have questions. If you have time, let me know what features you're most interested in seeing added or improved. I'm very interested in what engineers, researchers and DOT professionals are using most in the database.