BIM for roads & highways, DOT standards and more

Karen Weiss May 12, 2017

9 min read

Making a move to BIM for Roads and Highways

In this article…

From 2D to 3D: Civil 3D, an entry to BIM

Improved planning & design workflows: InfraWorks and Civil 3D

Building Information Modeling (BIM)

From 2D to 3D: Civil 3D, an entry to BIM

AutoCAD Civil 3D is software that supports a Building Information Modeling (BIM) workflow specifically for enhanced civil engineering design and construction documentation.  We call this the entry to BIM because it introduces 3D, parametric modeling to a historically 2D design environment. An added bonus is the ability to connect intelligent, structured data to the 3D digital models which can be used downstream to support paperless construction and enhanced asset management processes.

Several DOTs are either requiring Civil 3D for their design projects or opening the deliverables to Civil 3D formats as well as Bentley formats.  First, more surveyors and designers are getting trained in Civil 3D and have pressured DOTs to allow them to deliver projects in Civil 3D formats as opposed to requiring a Bentley format.  Another reason for this shift is EDC-3 innovations where the focus was on 3D engineered models (schedule, cost and post production) and on data-driven safety analysis where an intelligent model is necessary to deliver on these requirements. Civil 3D provides this intelligent modeling environment.  From civil design to drafting and documentation to visualization and analysis, this tool can help you to optimize your design workflows.

Transportation agency boosts productivity and quality AutoCAD Civil 3D helps the New Mexico Department of Transportation increase productivity and quality by minimizing time-consuming, error-ridden manual drawing updates. Read more.

Also, see BIM Return on Investment this Technical Brief, published by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration, is an example of a BIM early adopter whose story was featured in this brief.

Access the state kits

Civil 3D – Access DOT Standards / State Kits

Data interoperability

Projects often have multiple stakeholders who work with different software, so interoperability between Autodesk civil engineering software and Bentley civil engineering solutions is important. Autodesk and Bentley have implemented incremental improvements over the past 5 years to facilitate the translation of drawings between. DWG and. DGN. The goal is to be able to use Civil 3D to create. DGN files that are indistinguishable from those that were originally authored in MicroStation.
Likely you and/or your project stakeholders need to share project data between Civil 3D and Bentley InRoads or Bentley GEOPAK. The Civil Engineering Data Translator is a cloud-based data translator, available to AutoCAD® Civil 3D® subscription and maintenance customers, provides functionality which delivers bi-directional data conversion to enhance the interoperability between AutoCAD Civil 3D and Bentley® civil design software. The Civil Engineering Data Translator can improve workflows by enabling broader reuse of information generated during the design, construction, and operation of civil infrastructure projects, and enhances the ability of project teams to use multiple software data sources.

The Civil Engineering Data Translator gives Civil 3D users ways to easily reuse civil engineering project data created by Bentley design software. This provides a more streamlined way for new users to migrate from a Bentley solution to Civil 3D. Since the translator can also be used to export Civil 3D information to Bentley file formats, Civil 3D users may be able to bid on civil engineering projects with competitive specifications.  And you can use the translator to translate Civil 3D files to files that can be used in Bentley GEOPAK and Bentley InRoads.  Learn more.

We’ve made a number of improvements related to line type display within Civil 3D. The goal here is to enable Civil 3D to graphically match how  complex line types are displayed in Microstation

Pro-tips on Civil 3D

Training and materials – made by Florida DOT, but useful for all!

If you are using AutoCAD Civil 3D on roads and highways projects, you should check out the webinars that the support team at the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) hosts on a regular basis. The webinar series focuses on Civil 3D topics that take advantage of the customizations and standards which are available in the Florida DOT state kit.

If you are doing work for or planning to do work for the Florida DOT, these webinars are a must see. The webinars demonstrate workflows for everything from creating assemblies and editing parameters, to creating a corridor using the FDOT Subassemblies, to presenting overviews of creating roundabouts and using the Autodesk Vehicle Tracking software within a roadway project.

You may be thinking, “My company doesn’t do work for Florida DOT, so how will these webinars benefit me?” Many of the workflows that have been demonstrated in past webinars are applicable regardless of the client you are working for. The team at FDOT has consistently delivered innovation to civil engineering drafting and design software users for many years. You may find that FDOT has applications in their state kit that you can use to improve your everyday workflows. Florida DOT state kits are publically available for both Civil 3D 2015 and Civil 3D 2016. Documentation for the state kits are also accessible online.

Webinars are scheduled regularly.  To get more information, contact FLDOTCheck for recorded tutorials here.

More training: Civil 3D corridor modeling workshop content

Would you be interested in exploring the content presented at some Civil 3D workshops?

Access via YouTube

Civil 3D Advanced Roadway Modeling
Civil 3D Advanced Intersection Modeling

or Download…

Civil 3D Corridor Modeling training
Dataset used at the session (Unzip and place on your C: drive)
Step by step recordings –

Improved planning & design workflows: InfraWorks and Civil 3D

Civil 3D and InfraWorks is a dynamic duo when it comes to designing roads and highways projects. InfraWorks combined with AutoCAD Civil 3D can deliver significant time savings in preliminary design and early detailed design processes.

What value does InfraWorks bring to your work?  Establishing required existing conditions which can be used to identify potential impacts is one great example of improving your work by including InfraWorks in your current design workflow.

Refine and communicate design alternatives to support stakeholder review and approval.

Also, InfraWorks can analyze your point cloud and automatically recognize and create a terrain model as well as features like signs, light poles, and, trees.

Work like an engineer in a modeling environment. Contours, cross section views, configurable units and precision – these are all things that engineers need when creating their designs and you’ll now find them and more in InfraWorks 360.

Now you get views, views of terrain contours, cross section views, section based earthworks, unit configuration, and flood simulation.

Also, you get more serious road design as well from associated drainage to smart components such as lanes, curbs, and sidewalks. And you can independently control geometry slopes super elevation and other properties.

In addition to that, you get legal boundaries – parcels, easements, and rights-of-way can be accurately represented in your InfraWorks model.

Integrated analysis and simulation. Perform analysis and simulation that can inform your design decisions.  Here’s a great example of this:

Watch more videos on InfraWorks here.

Find out how AutoCAD Civil 3D and InfraWorks combine to improve outcomes in this benchmark study by the editorial team at Informed Infrastructure. It shows how the two products used side-by-side can save time, increase project understanding, and improve ability to deliver on objectives. Download now.

Building Information Modeling

You have already taken the first step: AutoCAD Civil 3D enables a BIM process for the detailed design and documentation of your civil engineering projects.  Exploring InfraWorks as part of the dynamic duo for preliminary engineering and design workflows helps you build more efficient BIM workflow that can be extended to the earliest stages of design Your BIM experience can be expanded by enabling a cloud connection to your processes.   You can leverage the power of the cloud to enable reality capture methods to build project context, connect simulation and analytics to your design models, and improve collaboration by sharing design intent and models across the lifecycle. So, why not take this opportunity to explore solutions that help you move beyond traditional CAD to more integrated and cloud-connected workflows.

Why is it important? Building anything begins with data.  All the complex data required to develop an infrastructure project – topographical data, existing environment information, LiDAR, and other photogrammetric data – all can be pulled together to build a data-rich 3D virtual model.  Data can be processed to provide information that forms the basis of analysis that helps us gain knowledge. This “intelligent” model becomes the hub around which the entire project revolves.

This process, which is called Connected BIM brings together big data, cloud computing and analytics to transform infrastructure   With the ability to quickly and cost-effectively capture information about the physical world and make it digital, soon it will be possible to have a true digital mirror of the physical world.

By tapping into the potential of BIM, more innovative infrastructure designs can be developed.  Permitting and review processes can be streamlined.  The public is more engaged.  Design and documentation processes are enhanced.  Mistakes are caught on the computer screen before they cost time and money on the construction site.  And, most importantly, every dollar goes farther and every project goes faster – resulting in savings of up to 20% on major projects.  It’s much easier to move a mouse than to move a bridge.

Several Federal agencies, encourage the use of BIM to drive efficiency and cut waste.  The MAP-21 surface transportation re-authorization act provided incentives for projects that use advanced technologies, such as 3D modeling; FHWA EDC initiatives encourage innovation, and several state DoTs are moving into the future with BIM.

Benefits of BIM for roads and highways

Read 3D/4D/5D Engineered Models for construction – This Technical Brief, published by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration. provides an overview of 3D modeling, including technology applications used during design and construction, benefits to stakeholders, resource requirements, current state-of-the practice, and advanced applications such as adding 4D and 5D components.

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