By Mark Holan, editorial director, ARTBA

The continued adoption of building information modeling (BIM), 3D design, and digital delivery means transportation design and construction professions should be prepared for a sea change in how they develop and utilize project information and plans. Model-based digital delivery is becoming more prevalent and beginning to replace traditional plan sheets in many states. Transportation agencies in Utah, Iowa, Illinois (Tollway), Florida, and New York have successfully completed digital delivery pilot projects with Model as the Legal Document (MALD) for design and construction of roads and bridges, and many additional pilot projects are planned. 

This change means more accuracy, improved collaboration, and better efficiency. But it also means large changes in the daily work and processes of on-site professionals, says Alexa Mitchell, highways and roads BIM director at ARTBA member firm HDR. 

“New skills will be needed to use these tools to access information that is being presented in a different medium,” she says in a Jan. 20 HDR “Experts Talks” interview. The ongoing change “involves shifting thinking away from plan-centric work to data-centric work, where information can be accessed and used in multiple ways.”

Mitchell has a background in national-level research and regional implementation, helping transportation leaders across the United States to deliver projects more effectively through BIM technology. She works closely with design and construction inspection staff to improve interdisciplinary coordination, proactively manage project risks and optimize constructability.

These issues are being explored by ARTBA’s Innovation & Technology Forum, which includes HDR Global Highways Director Will Sharp.

“The U.S. transportation design and construction industry is at the forefront of a major paradigm shift to open data standards and model-based digital delivery, which will fundamentally change the way we design and construct projects,” Sharp says. “It’s great to be involved with the ARTBA Innovation & Technology Forum to proactively discuss the industry changes and how designers, contractors, and public agencies can prepare for this change.”

ABOVE: Alexa Mitchell. (HDR photo)


ARTBA is always interested in stories about smart transportation design and construction. Please contact Editorial Director Mark Holan. See more stories about transportation design and construction industry technology and innovation in ARTBA’s 2020 “Smart Design & Construction” supplement.