3D Design Terrain Models for Construction Plans and GPS Control of Highway Construction Equipment

Quarterly Reports Other Documents Final Report
March 2009
June 2009
September 2009
December 2009
March 2010
Literature Review
Final Report

Primary Investigator

Awad S. Hanna
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
University of Wisconsin-Madison
2314 Engineering Hall
1415 Engineering Drive
Madison, WI 53706


Use of Global Positioning System ( GPS) technology to guide earth-moving equipment is quickly becoming common place in transportation facilities construction because it speeds project delivery and cuts costs. A requirement of this technology is a 3D representation of the design surface. Current design products for highways and other transportation facilities are 2D plans, profiles, and cross sections. To employ GPS machine guidance, these design products must be converted to 3D models prior to construction. Ironically, the technology used for producing 2D plans is often capable of 3D outputs. This research is intended to aid transportation organizations in developing strategies to overcome institutional, cultural, and legal impediments to adoption of 3D design and creation of more seamless data and work flows from design through construction. The full potential of new, spatial technologies to increase efficiencies in transportation facilities delivery cannot be realized without addressing these issues.


  1. Describe the state of the art in adoption of 3D transportation design and construction technologies,
  2. Describe potential benefits and productivity gains of utility of 3D technologies in transportation design and construction,
  3. Identify and characterize technological, institutional, cultural, and legal impediments to adoption of 3D design/construct technologies,
  4. Suggest strategies to overcome identified impediments,
  5. Incorporate aspects of this research in the educational program of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at UW-Madison.


  1. A survey to determine the status of implementing 3D design/ construct technologies and methods in transportation.
  2. Development of case studies for 3 selected DOTs.
  3. Description of functionality of 3D design software.
  4. Development of guidelines for implementation planning.
  5. Integration of this research into instruction at UW- Madison.
  6. Preparation of the project’s final report.

Project Information

  • Duration: 12 months
  • Dates: September 1, 2008 – August 31, 2009
  • Budget: $70,070
  • Modal Orientation: Highway
  • Project ID: CFIRE 02-05
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