Transportation planning continues to be a critical priority for state and local governments. Issues such as sustainability and the environment, accessibility for all riders, and transit efficiency are driving numerous initiatives across the country, reports Deltek.
For example, in June 2019, the Massachusetts Department of Transit and MBTA approved an $18.2 billion capital investment plan to scale and modernize road and bridge projects, public airports, and rain and transit.
Illinois also passed a $45 billion infrastructure bill with funding for neglected roads, bridges, and mass transit facilities, as well as upgrades and expansions to rail lines and facilities and a new electric infrastructure.
Transportation planning clearly remains a critical component of capital improvement and strategic plans among state and local governments. Yet, formidable challenges in the design/build stages remain. Multiple data sets and types, inefficient workflows, costly rework, and more can delay project outcomes and impact quality.
BIM Changes the Game for Transportation
The movement towards building information modeling (BIM) for infrastructure transportation projects, however, is gaining traction. In fact, beyond building, transportation is perhaps the largest beneficiary of BIM. Projects, such as those described above, can be fortified by BIM tools, processes, and workflows. In fact, workflow efficiency gains, are where transportation projects realize immediate gains.
In this whitepaper – How BIM Changes the Game for Transportation – Informed Infrastructure magazine explains why: “Every infrastructure project takes a phased approach, involves multiple stakeholders, and requires many coordinated teams for design, engineering and construction. The projects’ complex nature generates a lot of information that requires coordinated sharing as well as detailed management of the construction timeline, materials ordering and overall cost.”
This is where BIM adds huge gains. “The modeling, and more specifically the collaborative work around a shared model, provides a leap forward in efficiency. Modeling also eliminates most of the costly misunderstandings when coordinated teams become uncoordinated. The model provides the means to share each phase of work and resolve any conflicts with the individual project components or schedule before they become time- and money-wasting issues on the ground.”
BIM also helps with collaboration and communication. “With a shared model, designers, owners and contractors have a central place to work through the design for tradeoffs related to costs of different approaches and materials as well as design “constructability.” Owners stay engaged in the process through the shared model, and contractors can use the model to create an informed bid without cost surprises.”
BIM at Work on the Nation’s Largest Transportation Project
The workflow efficiencies and collaborative working that distinguishes BIM over traditional paper-based or 2D digital representation, can bring huge advantages to transportation projects such as New York City’s East Side Access Project – one of the largest and most complex projects ever embarked upon in New York and the United States. When completed, it will connect trains from Long Island and Queens to Manhattan’s Grand Central Station. The project includes over eight miles of new tunnels and an eight city-block long concourse with multiple train platforms 150 feet below Grand Central Station.
The LiRO Group, which provides construction management, engineering, and architectural solutions, is at the forefront of BIM and collaborative working and sharing of digital information and virtual project models and provides construction management services on the project.
The East Side Access project has been a work in progress for decades, starting out as a paper-based design in the 1960s and after a few stops and restarts the design was completed in the early 2000s and construction began thereafter.
Multiple contractors are working on different parts of the project, divided across 25 separate contracts, and the project design is spread across 100,000 drawings—making construction management a challenge. “It was like looking at the project through a keyhole,” said Lennart Andersson, Director of VDCO, The LiRo Group in this case study. “No one could see the whole thing.”
In response, the New York Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) asked LiRo to demonstrate how it used BIM on a previous MTA project and hired the group to transition the entire East Side Access project to BIM.
Using Autodesk Revit, the entire project was modeled based on the original drawings – resulting in over 125 interconnected models. Scans were also produced of as-built conditions, an exercise that threw up close to 400 issues that needed to be addressed prior to construction – saving a massive amount of rework time.
The virtual design concept was awarded second place in the Infrastructure category of Autodesk’s AEC Excellence Awards for its revolutionary work which also includes use of tools like Navisworks, InfraWorks, Civil 3D, ReCap, and BIM 360 Ops.
The project demonstrates the power of BIM to bring efficiencies to transportation projects on a massive scale. But these best practices can be applied to assist and improve project quality, deliver workflow gains, cost-savings, and project efficiencies – whatever the project size. Check out 4 Ways BIM is Changes the Game for Transportation to learn more.
Images courtesy of LiRo Group Virtual Design and Construction.