University Avenue in Cedar Falls, Iowa, is a busy two-mile divided highway originally constructed in the 1960s that needed a significant overhaul come the early 2010s. Completed over three years and three phases, the $38.9 million project involved turning the six-lane high- way into a four-lane multipurpose thoroughfare and replacing eight signalized intersections with roundabouts. The project needed to be completed quickly while meeting the needs of multiple commercial, residential, community, and municipal stakeholders. Foth was retained to develop a transportation plan, complete engineer- ing and design, and see the project through to construction, and relied on digital applications throughout the project lifecycle to deliver it Prior to the redesign, University Avenue had deteriorated over its more than 50-year lifespan and lacked appropriate bicycle and pedestrian lanes. The road, built primarily for vehicular traffic, was increasingly used by bicyclists, and pedestrians as the University of Northern Iowa continued to attract students and spur population growth. Businesses were difficult to access and road users’ dissatisfaction with the condi- tion of the roadway grew, leading them to lodge complaints with the City of Cedar Falls. Safety was of paramount concern. University Avenue was used by 20,000 vehicles daily and experienced a crash rate 20 percent higher than state average. The project faced intense public scrutiny and re- quired rigorous consultation and collaboration with various stakehold- ers. Due to the quality of the roadway, public complaints, and safety issues, there was urgency to deliver the project quicker than usual, while maintaining access to businesses and minimizing disruptions to road users. ahead of schedule and under budget. Project Priorities and Challenges Digital Applications Improved Project Delivery fromStart to Finish Using digital applications to capture better data, improve collabora- tion, and coordinate multiple data sets and contractors enabled us to provide a technologically advanced product to the city. In the early phases, we used drones and mobile LiDAR scanning to efficiently cap- ture accurate data. We relied on digital tools to manage and collaborate with 100 Foth members from seven offices on more than 21,000 files and 122 gigabytes of data throughout the five-year project lifecycle. The critical digital deliverable we created using Bentley’s open ap- plications was a single Building Information Model (BIM) on which Digital Tools Deliver Flexibility and Intelligence to Roadway Redesign Projects By Aaron Moniza, PE
we could collaborate internally and externally. The BIM reduced the design phase by 50 percent and created a data-rich interactive model for use by the city into the future. The BIM model provided the foun- dation for the effective use of several other digital applications for traffic modelling, utility coordination, comparing design alternatives, and more. Foth’s digital model and animated virtual representation proved highly effective in fast-tracking client feedback as well as facilitating dis- cussions and gaining approval from the project’s many stakeholders. Of primary concern for local stakeholders was the incorporation of roundabouts, which had rarely been seen in northeastern Iowa, and the interactive visualizations of how the roundabouts would work helped to alleviate concerns. Digital Approach Leads to Bottom Line Results Using digital applications for the University Avenue project cut the design time in half by saving 1,600 hours and more than $200,000 in project costs. Once the Foth model was used to construct the roadway, the City of Cedar Falls saw an 18 percent reduction in crashes and an 89 percent reduction in injury crashes, addressing the primary safety concerns of the project proponent, community, and roadway users. Of the project’s $38.9 million budget, the projected return on investment is $32 million over the next 25 years through reduced-crash incidents, time savings, eliminated traffic signal maintenance, and more. Tangential benefits to the roadway redesign include fewer traffic delays, reduced congestion, and decreased fuel usage and emissions. Using digital applications allowed us to deliver a sustainable project for the city for decades to come: a roadway that meets the needs of all users while providing a clear ROI, improved safety, environmental benefits, and a platform to support future growth. Benefits of Going Digital Throughout the University Avenue project, we relied on multiple Bent- ley applications to consolidate data, create the BIM, and ensure a single source of truth for all stakeholders. From OpenRoads, to OpenFlow, SewerGEMS, WaterGEMS, ProjectWise, and LumenRT, digital tools allowed us to solve hundreds of utility conflicts and create a digital twin for future use by the city.
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