Another dimension to NMDOT’s design process

July 2014 » Project + Technology Portfolio » Transportation
Following training and pilot projects, the agency is beginning full-scale deployment of 3D model-based design.
Scott May
The Cambray Bridge is a two-lane steel and timber bridge that straddles railroad tracks and is the oldest remaining railroad overpass in New Mexico.

In early 2013, the New Mexico Department of Transportation began a transition to 3D model-based design processes by adopting Autodesk BIM solutions for road and highway design. In an announcement regarding the move to the new design platform, NMDOT cited a range of anticipated benefits, such as cost savings due to reduced change orders, improved public input using model-based visualizations, and accelerated construction using BIM solutions to support machine-controlled grading.

While finishing projects started on its former design platform, NMDOT staff began training on the Autodesk software, including AutoCAD Civil 3D and Autodesk InfraWorks. In the spring of 2013, NMDOT piloted the use of InfraWorks to develop project animations for the visualization of a complicated roadway rehabilitation project on the verge of completion: the I-10/I-25 Interchange Improvements Project.

NMDOT used InfraWorks to model its proposal for a new bridge and the surrounding terrain, creating project visualizations that were used for public outreach and during presentations to the New Mexico Historic Preservation Division.

This newly built interchange is located at the intersection of Interstates 10 and 25 at Las Cruces. The project features replacement of two ramps (one with a new fly-over bridge), reconstruction of two bridges to current standards, realignment of several frontage roads, and expanded ramp entrance and exit lanes. NMDOT used InfraWorks software to create a 3D visualization model of the project, including the new interchange as well as imported aerial photography, digital terrain models, and survey data of the surrounding terrain. Using InfraWorks, NMDOT then created an animated movie ( HYPERLINK "http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=moTk71vUfbo&feature=youtu.be" www.youtube.com/watch?v=moTk71vUfbo&feature=youtu.be) of the new interchange — set in the context of the existing surroundings — where viewers could virtually fly-over and drive through the redesigned interchange to get a much better understanding of the new construction.

Next, NMDOT used InfraWorks to help communicate design proposals for the replacement of an historical railroad overpass. The Cambray Bridge is on NM-549, a two-lane rural highway, approximately 30 miles west of Las Cruces. The steel and timber bridge straddles railroad tracks and is the oldest remaining railroad overpass in New Mexico, but its age poses a range of safety-related concerns. NMDOT is challenged with upgrading the bridge to current standards without making substantial changes to the structure’s aesthetics that will adversely affect the surrounding historic district. NMDOT used InfraWorks to model its proposal for a new bridge and the surrounding terrain, creating project visualizations that were used for public outreach and during presentations to the New Mexico Historic Preservation Division.

With training and pilot projects under its belt, NMDOT is embarking on full-scale deployment of the Autodesk solutions for production on most new projects starting in 2014. Designers have already begun using Civil 3D on the design of two bridge replacement projects: the Berrendo Creek Bridge in Roswell and the Union Avenue Bridge in Las Cruces. In addition, the department is finding it easier to hire staff, drawing from a large pool of AutoCAD-trained professionals, and easier to work with outside consultants, many of whom already use Autodesk software. 

Scott May is IT applications developer 1 with the New Mexico Department of Transportation. More information is available at www.autodesk.com/infraworks or www.facebook.com/InfraWorks360


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