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$4+ billion expressway connects busy city

AEC Excellence Awards // 2018

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Image courtesy of Chongqing Municipal Research Institute of Design

BIM-powered integrated workflows improve 28-kilometer project that includes, tunnels, bridges, and interchanges

Located in Chongqing, China, the Parallel Line of the Fourth Diversion Expressway will add much-needed transportation capacity to a growing municipality. Chongqing is a mountainous city bisected by the Yangtze River, and river crossings and mountains make up much of the 28-kilometer-long (17.4-mile-long) project. The project also includes seven interchanges—one of which intersects eight roads and contains 35 ramps. From start to finish, the project team relied on BIM (Building Information Modeling) tools in the Architecture, Engineering & Construction Collection—including Civil 3D engineering-design software, Navisworks project-review software, InfraWorks infrastructure-design software, and Revit building-design software—to help integrate workflows during the planning and design of the complex project.



Chongqing Municipal Research Institute of Design used a large, multidisciplinary team to deliver the Parallel Line of the Fourth Diversion Expressway design. The total costs were expected to exceed $4 billion, so the team was determined to optimize every aspect of the high-profile project. It was especially committed to making the expressway user friendly while harmonizing with the surrounding urban environment and existing infrastructure.

The team needed a way to capture and share existing conditions as it designed the many aspects of the project, bringing together existing maps of infrastructure and aerial imagery of the city. Just as important, the team wanted a way to see the high-level design and engineering implications of its design options.


The team decided to use a combination of BIM tools to help plan the overall project. It turned to drones to gather aerial imagery of the area and to GIS (geographic information system) data for maps of existing infrastructure. Bringing that into InfraWorks gave the team a 3D view of existing conditions. With a combination of Civil 3D and Revit, it designed and engineered concepts of the new expressway. The team could then bring this design information into InfraWorks and blend it with the existing conditions model.

Dynamo, a computational-design tool that integrates with BIM design applications such as Revit, let team members use programmatic rules to refine the expressway. This approach helped the team explore multiple design options in just a few days—something that could have easily taken months, considering the length and complexity of the expressway.

Xiaoyang Zhang, professorate senior engineer on the project, explains: “The combination of drones for aerial photography and BIM tools—including Revit, InfraWorks, Dynamo, and Civil 3D—helped us complete map data acquisition and the initial planning faster. It took only five to seven days, and the scheme is better and the environmental impact is smaller.”

Image courtesy of Chongqing Municipal Research Institute of Design

Image courtesy of Chongqing Municipal Research Institute of Design


The Huayan Interchange segment of the project proved to be one of the most complex to plan and design. Intersecting eight roads and containing 35 ramps, the interchange had the potential to confuse drivers. Drawing the complex web of ramps—even in 3D with Revit, Civil 3D, and InfraWorks—could provide only limited insight into how a driver would navigate the ramps. The team turned to BIM-compatible virtual-reality (VR) technology to simulate the driving experience. It brought design models created with Civil 3D and Revit into VR tools to explore the best way to configure the ramps.

“In the interchange design, by combining design models created in Civil 3D and Revit with VR technologies, we made the interchange better for driving,” Zhang says. “We could experience the line of sight in the driving process. The simulation results were used to guide the optimization of the design. It would have taken six months to design with the traditional design method. But with BIM, it took us about three months.”

“Large infrastructure projects like the Parallel Line of the Fourth Diversion Expressway have complex environmental conditions and many design elements. Beyond the challenges of the design program, communication and coordination across a large team can be difficult. The BIM process helped us see the project as a whole and work together more seamlessly.”

—Xiaoyang Zhang, Professorate Senior Engineer, Chongqing Municipal Research Institute of Design



The project team points to its multidisciplinary approach and the BIM tools in the AEC Collection as keys to the speed and success of the design. It estimates that the close collaboration enabled by using compatible tools—such as InfraWorks, Revit, and Civil 3D—helped shorten the design time on the project by 15%. With the team easily able to incorporate the input from more than 20 disciplines—including specialists in roads, bridges, tunnels, architecture, transportation, and more—it was able to make better decisions and gain an overall view on a project that generated more than 5,300 files.

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