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AECOM Redesigns Busy Highway and Railway Intersection in South Florida Using 3D Modeling

17 Aug, 2020 By: Meg Davis

Bentley Systems OpenRoads helps the infrastructure firm develop a visually engaging informational model within a connected data environment.

The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) manages all roadways and highways in the state, including Miami-Dade County in southern Florida. In 2015, FDOT adopted a new program to expedite the planning and design of roadway and highway projects, in order to more quickly deliver project benefits to the general public and surrounding communities.

One of the first projects involved in this new program was the Northeast 203rd Street Intersection Improvements Project. The motivation for the project was to enhance safety for pedestrians and vehicles crossing over the railroad corridor at Northeast 203rd Street due to the high number of trains in the area.

AECOM — known for working with clients, communities, and colleagues to solve complex challenges in the commercial, residential, and transportation industries — was awarded the project for the initial planning phase to evaluate various concepts and determine a preferred design. The organization was then tasked with proposing the final highway design that would reroute foot traffic and road access within tight property limits. The organization also needed to minimize the environmental impact on nearby stormwater infrastructure and existing ponds.

Redesigning an Intersection for Improved Safety and Traffic Flow

The $35 million highway and railway intersection redevelopment project consists of removing an at-grade railroad crossing and constructing a new 355-foot-long pedestrian bridge, widening an existing bridge, and constructing two new ramp bridges of 592 feet and 600 feet. Additionally, the project includes multiple signal, lighting, and drainage improvements.

The main objective of this project is to improve traffic operations and safety at the existing railroad crossing. AECOM needed to provide sheets for multiple alignments and bid structures. After the project is let for contractor bids, which needs to occur in 2021 to keep the project on schedule, AECOM must also provide continuous post-design support. To meet these goals, the project team needed to improve visualization of the design for all participants while also enhancing all means of communication.

Increasing Visualization of the Complex Expansion Project

To improve visualization of the design for all participants, AECOM used Bentley Systems’ OpenRoads, OpenBridge, and LumenRT software to model the proposed structures, including the vehicle-and-pedestrian bridge. This practice helped the team avoid impacts to adjacent structures, wetlands, and sensitive areas. Additionally, the team modeled all utilities in a 3D environment to allow for evaluation of a proposed drainage design that maximizes the use of green space to increase water quality treatment within the project limit.

AECOM used Bentley applications to model the proposed roadway structures.

Bentley applications were also used to create 3D, 4D, and 5D deliverables that showcased AECOM’s innovative design and provide marketing material for FDOT’s project proposal. For example, OpenRoads Designer helped with modeling and designing the roadways, grading, and cross sections, while ContextCapture helped develop a reality-mesh model of the surrounding area.

Another way that AECOM improved project visualization was by implementing civil infrastructure information modeling (CIIM). This practice allowed the team to visualize the potential designs and measure performance features, such as sight lines and vehicular clearances. Performing these analyses during the design phase was crucial to keep the project on schedule and meet client demands.

The team used OpenRoads for modeling and design, and created engaging project visualizations and marketing materials.

Improving Collaboration, Internally and Externally

Along with improving visualization, AECOM needed to ensure that collaboration between the organization and its supply chain was cohesive. Therefore, AECOM used ProjectWise to establish an open, connected data environment so that each team member could access the latest data. This practice helped save a total of 480 resource hours by eliminating the need to email files back and forth or provide external access to internal local servers. In addition, ProjectWise helped team members directly upload final deliverables into submittal folders, reducing back-end effort and saving about 130 resource hours.

With any transportation project, it is important to communicate with the public throughout the entire project lifecycle. To make it easier for AECOM — and, therefore, the client — to communicate with participants outside of the organization, the team created 5D iModels, interactive 3D LiveCube models in LumenRT, and daytime and nighttime renderings. The organization also used videos to better communicate the project design, including 4D constructability, drive-through, and project overview videos.

Also, AECOM made sure to use applications that provided geolocation for proposed 3D models, which were shared using iModelHub. The team created representations of existing buildings around the project and overlaid 3D reality meshes of the design to more readily and easily understand the design solutions to the project’s complex infrastructure challenges. This content was used to convey the project design to FDOT, the general public, and technical designers, proving to be more effective than traditional methods.

Providing High-quality Deliverables while Streamlining Workflows

AECOM delivered more than 700 plan sheets, 10 horizontal alignments, eight profiles, 215 cross-sections, 14 corridors, and 1,900 linear feet of bridges (including bridge widening) to FDOT. It would not have been possible for AECOM to present this significant number of deliverables to the client without the use of Bentley applications. By using OpenRoads, the AECOM team had an environment that let them efficiently design the roadway in an easy-to-understand way while also saving time. By developing a 3D model of the proposed roadways and ramps, AECOM saved an estimated one hour per cross-section, four hours per horizontal alignment, four hours per profile, and 10 hours per corridor for quantities. In total, the team saved about 430 hours of design time.

Improved communication also helped AECOM save significant time on the project. Through the use of ProjectWise as the connected data environment, interdisciplinary reviews were made more efficient and transparent. All disciplines could review the proposed design plans and the federated model in real time, whenever and wherever. This practice streamlined the review process while also providing a design that was easier to visualize and understand than traditional workflows. These electronic reviews and plan sets did not need to be printed for verification and review, reducing the number of printed sheets by 1,400 pages and helping lessen AECOM’s environmental impact.

Despite the streamlined workflows, AECOM still delivered a high-quality design to its client. With enhanced engineering analysis and design, as well as 3D deliverable reviews, the project team was able to detect numerous utility conflicts before construction, enhance pedestrian safety, and improve driver visibility on the roadway. These benefits would not have been realized without the ability to visualize the project throughout all its phases.

About the Author: Meg Davis

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