Virtual design and construction tools are crossing over from buildings to transportation projects. Officials admit that 3D parametric modeling in the transportation sector has trailed the buildings sector, but they say change is afoot. “In 10 years, we will be living in a BIM world,” predicts Cosima Crawford, chief engineer for the New York City Transit Authority. “It’s our new reality,” she says.That reality has transportation teams tackling the same challenges their building counterparts are seeing in their transition to building information modeling. These include BIM technology issues, process change and institutional buy-in.
A few years ago, NYCTA’s parent agency, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, began to use VDC, in which a project is built virtually in the computer using “intelligent” 3D software packages, for megaprojects, such as the $1-billion Fulton Street Transit Center and the $4.451-billion Phase One Second Avenue Subway project. VDC approaches help develop work phasing, passenger flows and placement of columns and piles. Visualizations “give [local businesses] an understanding of the construction process early on,” says says MTA’s William Goodrich, program executive for the Second Avenue Subway project.