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25 (ABJ95T) and the AASHTO Highway Subcommittee on driver's perspective for signage and line-of-sight issues. The Design (13). Both of these organizations provide invaluable project was well done, the results from the animation were resources for visualization. very effective, and the finished construction turned out as simulated. Visualization Benefits CASE STUDY 5: FEDERAL HIGHWAY The group has been successfully operating for the past ADMINISTRATION 10 years, just not as an official group but rather as part of the Landscape Architecture division. In 2005/2006, the Contact: visual group will be merging with the GIS, Photogramme- CADD/Design Visualization Coordinator try, Survey, and Data Modeling groups to form the Terrain FHWA Data Services group. This reorganization should make visu- 21400 Ridgetop Circle Sterling, VA 20166 als a part of the design process. The group will become a centralized technical resource center for specialized 3-D design services. The long-term goal is to have visualization Organization become officially recognized as a design service. To further incorporate visualization into the design process, the visu- FHWA is responsible for ensuring the safety, efficiency, alization group would like to see 3-D design adopted as part and economy of the nation's highway transportation of the CADD process. With the short-term budgetary con- system. FHWA oversees all phases of highway policy, ditions, it is anticipated that this adoption will not take planning, research, design, operations, construction, and place for several years. maintenance. Two principal programs accomplish this task: (1) the Federal-Aid Highway Program, which works with The Latham Traffic Circle in Colonie, New York, was state DOTs to administer the nation's comprehensive high- constructed in 1934. A frequent accident site, this old-style, way system; and (2) the Federal Lands Highway Program large traffic circle forms an interchange between two busy (FLHP), which works with federal land management agen- state highways. Total reconstruction of the circle would have cies to oversee highway programs and provide transporta- been prohibitively expensive; however, NYSDOT found tion engineering services for planning, design, contract other ways to improve its safety, including adding new administration, and construction of highways and bridges approach signs and pavement markings on all legs of the cir- that provide access to or within federally owned lands. The cle to provide clear paths for negotiating the circle and to FLHP also provides training, technology deployment, engi- minimize driver confusion. neering services, and products to other customers. The visualization group at NYSDOT did an extensive Visualization technologies were first implemented at amount of animation for the traffic circle project. Both the FHWA in the mid-1990s in an effort to help the public better existing and proposed conditions were visually created to understand designs. Visualization was first established in the depict conflicts within the circle (see Figure 29). NYSDOT Eastern Federal Lands Highway Division (EFLHD) and later incorporated video and animation to show the view from the expanded to the Central and Western divisions. The design visualization coordinator oversees activity in the EFLHD division; the other two divisions do not have a lead coordina- tor at this time. The design visualization coordinator is the first design visualization specialist in the FLHP. This person is in charge of all design visualization at the EFLHD. Design visualization consists of all graphics, including 3-D and 2-D. The design visualization group resides under the Engineering and Software Support division. Why the Need for Visualization? FHWA has found that visualization technology helps the public better understand projects and helps expedite design decisions, thereby reducing design costs. Visualization tech- FIGURE 29 Rendering of Latham Traffic Circle, Colonie, nologies are being used from the planning stage to post- New York, using video and animation to depict existing and construction repairs; however, it is not part of the design proposed conditions. (Courtesy : NYSDOT.) process.
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26 Implementation Plan sets a yearly budget for attendance at conferences and sem- inars. This individual also receives vendor-specific training Research and Development for the applications that are used at FHWA. FHWA cur- rently does not have the same severe budgetary constraints There is no specific research and development program at that state DOTs have. FHWA. To enhance FHWA's research and development resources, the design visualization coordinator is affiliated with the TRB Task Force on Visualization in Transportation Visualization Benefits (ABJ95T). This individual also consults with CADD ven- dors, but has noted that these vendors have not made design To date, the most effective visual tool used at FHWA has visualization a priority. been photo-simulation, such as that used for the Goshen Creek project (Figure 30). This tool is used primarily because In an effort to standardize visualization methodologies, of its low cost and quick production time. The technology is FHWA contracted Parsons Brinckerhoff to draft a sim- also the most easily understood by project managers and the plified guideline for design visualization. In 2005, this public. guideline was made available on the FHWA website at http://www.efl.fhwa.dot.gov/manuals/dv/. The purpose of The visualization group completed design visuals for the the guide is to introduce visualization tools and innovative National Park Service on the Blue Ridge Parkway traffic practices to the federal lands highway designer so that these barrier study. The use of design visualization clearly showed techniques and tools will eventually be integrated into the different aesthetic treatments for the bridge abutments. most federal lands highway projects whenever there are The National Park Service was enthusiastic about the visu- design issues or communication needs. The guide helps the als, which improved the decision-making and public ap- designer learn to use commonly available software tools to proval processes for the project. produce visuals that help the designer better understand and communicate designs. Internal Approval Process for Visualization The approval process is determined by the project managers in the Engineering and Software Support division, with con- sultation from the design visualization coordinator. There is no official policy or guidelines for the use of visualization at FHWA. Each of the three divisions' project managers deter- mines what work should be done and how to approach it. Design visualization is centralized at FHWA, and the design visualization coordinator calculates a yearly budget for this service. Much of this budget is based on the previous year's activity. There are no standards for budgeting costs for specific projects. Calculations are based primarily on previ- ous experience. Staffing At the EFLHD, the design visualization coordinator has the only division staffed for design visualization. The visual- ization coordinator's official title is Senior Transportation Specialist/Design Visualization Specialist. This individual is in charge of coordinating design visualization for all departments and other agencies and oversees two techni- cians. Staffing came from departmental transfers from the Preliminary Design Department. In parallel with the design visualization guidelines, training guidelines are being developed. Training is conducted primarily in-house FIGURE 30 Goshen Creek existing conditions (top) and photo- through mentoring. The design visualization coordinator simulation of proposed conditions (bottom). (Courtesy : FHWA.)