Caltrans Commits to Civil 3D as their Roadway Design Standard
Starting today, Caltrans has made the commitment for all projects to be designed using Autodesk’s AutoCAD Civil 3D software. All new projects will be required to be designed in the software, and any existing projects that are not already 30% underway with plans, specifications and estimates (PS&E) should be converted to Civil 3D.
Caltrans was previously using CAiCE software for their development, and note that the software hasn’t received software developer upgrades for some time. Some engineers have continued to use CaiCE due to their familiarity with the software, but a memorandum has gone out mandating the switch.
AutoCAD Civil 3D is being customized and configured to support the Caltrans workflow and design standards. A state-wide training initiative to get engineers up to speed on Civil 3D was initiated in 2012. Over a four year period, Caltrans expects to deploy over 4,000 seats of AutoCAD Civil 3D to support their design projects.
UPDATE: A spokesperson from Caltrans responded to our questions.
What precipitated the move toward more of a model-based workflow with Autodesk’s AutoCAD Civil 3D?
The move to a new roadway design software was due to the sunset of the CAiCE software and the fact that it is no longer supported. The Department needed a new software to replace CAiCE, so it conducted a competitive bid process to evaluate different design software packages that were available on the market. Autodesk, Inc. was able to meet all the requirements so the Department of General Services (which serves as business manager for the state of California, including procurement) awarded the contract to Autodesk for their Civil 3D software.
Are there features in Civil 3D that are of particular benefit in terms of time savings and quality assurance?
One of the capabilities that will save designers time is the intelligent element feature that will allow them to make a change to a roadway element while automatically updating roadway design feature components. For example, the grading limits and earthwork quantities will automatically be computed based on a change made to the vertical profile. Another feature is the 3D engineered modeling capability that will allow designers to see a visual of the design and identify errors or conflicts prior to construction.
What has the transition meant in terms of adjusting or streamlining your traditional workflow?
With the transition to Civil 3D, Caltrans will now be able to share project files so that others working on the project can reference the same project data. For example, when the surveys unit updates the existing digital terrain model, everyone working on the project with a reference to that data will be notified that the data has been updated. The same can occur with alignments, allowing multiple users to work on the same project at the same time.
Caltrans is just starting its third year of training and so far, the software is being well received.
What are some examples in terms of how the Civil 3D tools are being customized and configured to meet your specific workflows?
Civil 3D has been configured to include Caltrans design, surveying, and some drafting standards. This will save the users time and increase consistency and efficiency, especially when it comes time to exporting data from Civil 3D to Microstation, which is still the Department’s official drafting software.
What sort of productivity gains are expected?
Caltrans expects less rework and more collaboration among functional units.