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PennDOT Embracing 3-D Design and Construction Process

June 10, 2020 08:00 AM
By: Rich Kirkpatrick, PennDOT Bureau of Innovations

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​PennDOT is moving to embrace the world of three-dimensional (3-D) to streamline and enhance the project design and construction process in ways that are very fitting for a 21st Century organization.

The Computer-Aided Design and Draft (CADD) core working group led by Kelly M. Barber, P.E., Highway Administration program manager and section chief; William Harrison, CADD Manager; Leroy Posey, highway design manager; and Allen Melley, P.E., civil engineer manager, have been working on details.

Under the Digital Delivery program, which Melley leads, by 2025, construction projects will be able to be bid using 3-D technology rather than in traditional paper-based construction plan formats.

The initial focus is on an Open Roads Designer (ORD), which is an upgrade to the existing CADD platform, with training now in process for PennDOT staff and PennDOT pilots planned for this spring.  Barber is focusing on this area.

With the existing process, designers work with two-dimensional (2-D) plans, which the building contractors then translate into three dimensions. With the Digital Delivery initiative, dubbed Planless 2025, the 3-D models will have details for all elements to be built and serve as the “document of truth,” from which the contractors will work. PennDOT expects this evolution will improve quality.

3-D plans already are being developed for the massive rebuilding of the Eisenhower Boulevard interchange at the junctions of Interstates 83 and 283 and U.S. 322 in Dauphin County.

“It’s a team effort, department-wide,” Melley said. “It’s a different way of doing business … We are moving to be a leader.”

PennDOT’s team is also reaching out to counterparts in Utah and Iowa who also are working on 3-D plans.

Eventually, all the 3-D plans would be used in PennDOT’s asset management and cover all of PennDOT’s road and bridge network. Inspectors would work with iPads and see all road or bridge details in 3-D, aiding in their work.

“It’s fascinating to be working on something that will change the department,” Melley said. 

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