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Electronic highway construction plans availability outside North America


J N Winkler:
It is now more than a decade since Ohio DOT became probably the first American state DOT to start putting its highway construction plans online, where members of the general public (not just contractors) can view and download them.  In the intervening time, about 25 other DOTs have started putting their construction plans online as well (and three--KyTC, MnDOT, and GDOT--now also have as-builts archives online).

The same idea has also become popular in western Europe in the last three years.  What follows is a country-by-country description, including details on how to find signing plans (my main personal interest):


The Ministerio de Fomento puts proyectos de construcción online and leaves them up for at least a year--no login, no password, no hassles.

Some of the proyectos are quite large (in the gigabytes for urban motorway connectors, long lengths of motorway in rural areas, etc.).  This SABRE thread explains how proyectos are structured and how Fomento's project nomenclature works.

Autonomous communities and provinces are also active in road construction in Spain, but going into the details of online availability for these would make this post too long.  In any event, Fomento does most of the heavy lifting.

"Traffic signing" = señalización in Spanish.  Spanish direction sign replacement contracts tend to be quite large, with works budgets in the millions of € and hundreds of pages of sign designs, typically pattern-accurate and in full color.  35-V-4940 is a case in point.

For reasons connected to government accounting procedures in the European Union, Spain finds it expedient to pass construction costs through an arms-length company (SEITT), which has its own tendering flow.  Projects SEITT has advertised can be downloaded here:

SEITT's most ambitious contract at the moment is probably the four-bore tunnel which will carry the SE-40 second ring road of Seville under the navigable portion of the Guadalquivir.


In France, as in Spain, central government does the heavy lifting, and puts bid packages on a public procurement site, whose search page is here:

Choose "Ministère de l'Ecologie, de l'Energie, du Développement Durable et de l'Aménagement du territoire" from the first drop-down box and choose "Travaux" as the principal category to do a general search for all construction contracts, or do a keyword search for "signalisation" to find those contracts with signing in the description.

Further details of how to access the documentation for each project is in this SABRE thread:

A Web form has to be filled out to access the documentation, but this chore is not as onerous as it seems at first--essentially you need just a first and last name (last name in all caps, e.g. "Jonathan WINKLER," if you want to pass as a native) and an email address, which will then be used to send you email notifications of changes in the tender.

The French are not as big on sign replacements as the Spanish, but even so the décors des panneaux (sign designs) for many projects run into dozens of pages.  Generally they are pattern-accurate and in full color.  Unfortunately there seems to be no way to access the drawings and other project-related information in arrears--if the tenders have been opened by the time you learn about the contract, you missed it.

The French ministry responsible for the untolled centrally maintained road network changes names the way ordinary people change clothes.  It is MEEDDAT now, and will probably be something else tomorrow.  When I first became aware of it, it was still the Ministère de l'Équipement.  I don't think it has been anything as simple, obvious, or logical as Ministère des Transports in any recent year.


As in Spain, construction documentation is really simple to access, and the main road network is centrally maintained, in Denmark's case by Vejdirektoratet (Roads Directorate).

Projects are described by, in order, procurement type, work type (I am guessing Signalanlæg = traffic signals, Broarbejder = bridge work, Belysning = lighting, etc.), project limits, name of road, and contract number.  Clicking through on any project takes you to the documentation for it, including the tegninger (= plans).  "Signing work" in Danish is tavlearbejder.  There are no currently advertised signing contracts, but Vejdirektoratet maintains a very good contracts archive, including the plans.  Old contracts are accessible here:

The archive runs back to 2005 with plans availability back almost to that year.  Danish signing contracts are few in number (just two to three a year) but tend to be large, with sign design sheets running into the dozens or even hundreds.


Vägverket (the Swedish Road Administration) contracts with a private company, Allego, to maintain a current tender listing.  It is accessible here:

The first section lists contracts currently open for tendering--the other two list contracts where tenders have been opened and (I think) future advertisements.  The link for each page goes to an advertisement notice formatted similarly to a TEU notice.  If you are logged in to Allego and you have chosen English as your preferred language, the CPV data will appear in English, but otherwise it will appear in Swedish.  If documentation is available, there will be a link to it from that notice page but you will need to log in to Allego to access it.  I believe Allego now has a facility to register in English (it didn't exist when I registered, so I had to work it all out in Swedish).  The registration process is fairly straightforward but, if you are not a Swedish national, you will need to use an invented Swedish fiscal number in order to complete registration (I think Allego recommends zero repeated so that the fake number has the same number of digits as an actual fiscal number).  Your profile must have an email address, which Allego uses to notify you of tender changes.

If the construction documentation is small enough (say, less than 100 MB), Allego hosts it as a multi-part RAR archive.  All parts need to be downloaded in order to decompress successfully with WinRAR (or any other RAR program).  If the construction documentation is large (I have seen projects north of 1 GB), Allego gives you the login details you need to access it on Vägverket's FTP server; each project has its own login.

Allego's project listing page does not have many specifics about each project, so it is often easier to tell what a project is not than what it is.  Many projects are described as "GC-väg":  i.e., shared pedestrian/cycle path.  "Bron" means bridge.  Projects where the road number is low (two digits) or is an Euroroute are usually safe bets for large projects.  I have never known Vägverket to advertise pure signing contracts, though large projects often include substantial amounts of signing work.  Where signing work is done, sign layout sheets are typically provided but it is fairly rare for sign designs also to be provided.  Swedish sign designs are pattern-accurate and in full color, but with gray used as a substitute for white, probably for convenience in CAD.  Sign sketches on sign layout sheets are generally also pattern-accurate but are keyline drawings, usually in black (no color fills). Tavlor = "signs" in Swedish.  Vägmärkering covers upright signs as well as road markings, not just the latter (as you would expect from the apparent English cognates).

Unlike Spain and Denmark, but sadly similar to France, Allego does not make construction documentation available in arrears.

These are the ones I have found that are worthwhile.  There is some online availability at least of tender notices (not necessarily plans) for other European jurisdictions like Scotland, Norway, Ireland, Portugal, and Italy which does not involve going through Tenders Electronic Daily; however, the availability of construction plans is not good.  I am still investigating countries like Germany, Poland, Finland, and the Czech Republic, which all have had very active highway construction programs.  Great Britain and the Netherlands are a dead loss because they depend heavily on design-build procurement (called "Early Contractor Involvement" in Britain's case) for large projects.

J N Winkler:
This is pretty typical of Spanish sign design sheets.

Do they have plans to simplify the road numbering system in Spain? It's one of the most complex and extensive in the world. The list of prefixes is virtually endless...

J N Winkler:
The abundance of prefixes is not generally seen as a problem in Spain and I don't think it will ever be reformed.  The application of A-road designations to what were formerly N-roads has solved the problem of not being able to distinguish motorway-standard roads by prefix, at least outside the Basque Country (though Valencia is apparently getting rid of some V-road designations in favor of N-road designations despite blue sign backgrounds being in use . . .).

J N Winkler:
Another one to add to the list:


In Switzerland this is the E-procurement platform for municipalities, cantons, and the federal government:

Where important through highways are concerned, the agencies to watch are the cantonal public works departments and the federal Office for Roads (Bundesamt für Strassen, or ASTRA, in German).  Simap is searchable by keyword, contracting agency, CPV, and various parameters.  If a project listed on Simap is currently open for acceptance of tenders, you can download any documents for it that are made available once you choose a username and register.  Registration is straightforward and simple, but you need to supply a valid email address so you can be sent your password.  As is sadly also the case for France and Sweden, the availability of the construction documentation for a project ends on the closing date for tenders.

In Switzerland responsibility for construction on important through routes is divided between the cantons and ASTRA.  For this reason, I recommend searching Simap by CPV parameter (road construction in general is 452*--you can choose additional digits for the specific type of road construction you are interested in) so that you can capture major projects being performed by the cantons as well as ASTRA.  As an example, when I checked Simap last Friday, ASTRA was advertising the signalling for a tunnel on the Lucerne ring motorway, while the Canton of Neuchâtel was advertising a project on the N-5 motorway to place both carriageways within cut-and-cover tunnels.

I found Simap just recently, and haven't seen a broad sample of contracts yet, so I don't know precisely how the Swiss behave in terms of contract signing.  The Lucerne signalling project did have a pattern-accurate plan sheet showing the various aspects of changeable message signs which are to be installed in the tunnel, but no dimensioned drawings for the individual aspects.  The N-5 cut-and-cover contract had no signing content that I could see.


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