Implementation of GPS Controlled Highway Construction Equipment – Phase III

Quarterly Reports Other Documents Final Report
Final Report

Primary Investigator

Awad Hanna
Construction and Materials Support Center
University of Wisconsin – Madison
1415 Engineering Drive, 2314 EH
Madison, WI 53706


Beginning in 2006, WisDOT and the Construction Material and Support Center (CMSC) at UW-Madison worked together to develop the specifications and the QA/QC procedures for GPS machine guidance on highway grading projects. These specifications and procedures were the basis for the 2007 Pilot Program using GPS machine control grading on two projects. A phase II contract with CMSC was developed to monitor and analyze the 2007 pilot projects. The end result of this contract was the refinement of the specifications and procedures to be used in the 2008 pilot program.

Currently there are five (5) grading contracts that were selected by the regions as good candidates for GPS machine guidance and will be let with specifications that will permit the use of GPS machine guidance in lieu of setting blue tops. In addition, there is one (1) more project that is in the process of doing a no cost contract change order to use GPS machine guidance and will be part of the 2008 pilot program. Because five (5) of these projects will permit and not require the use of GPS machine guidance, we are uncertain at this time of the exact number for our 2008 pilot program. We are anticipating 2 – 4 projects in the 2008 pilot program. The allocation of hours by CMSC staff in the section on Tasks, below, assumes three pilot projects.


  • More experience and data that will allow us to refine our specifications and to make them more bidder friendly.
  • Effects and concerns with using the CORS network for GPS machine Guidance.
  • Effects and concerns with using GLONASS and other components of the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) on machine guidance.
  • Special review of the results and accuracies from items 2 and 3 above to determine if we could/should refine or tighten our specifications when using these technologies.
  • Further investigate the use of “last pass” information to determine if it is practical to use or accurate enough for creation of a final DTM for final quantity measurement.
  • Experience with bidding projects with the option of using GPS machine guidance.
  • What are the contractor’s expectations from the Department in regard to furnishing the design surface data necessary to develop the DTM?
  • The results of this study will investigate what part of the specifications contractors and WEMA feel are too restrictive and recommend cost effective methods or specification changes to address these concerns.
  • Analyze the current slope stake practices.
  • Investigate the use of GPS machine guidance for base course and make a recommendation concerning future use on WisDOT projects.
  • Identify the necessary knowledge and skill levels for project engineers and surveyors to administer the contracts involving GPS machine guidance?
  • Can project control requirements be reduced? How does the availability of the CORS network reduce the need for project control?
  • Is there a need to specify the maximum geographic extent of a single site calibration?
  • Are there issues with GPS machine guidance in urban areas that are not apparent in rural areas?


  1. Assemble project management team based on 2006 management structure
  2. Select up to three pilot projects
  3. Characterize the pilot projects with respect to location, geographic extend, soil type, terrain conditions, availability and nature of project control points, GPS machine guidance technology, contractor’s and engineer’s experience, geometric complexity, and any special conditions
  4. Develop and document, for future use by WisDOT, a technical training program
  5. Develop a plan to visit the site for each pilot project
  6. Conduct site visits
  7. Characterize bidding process for GPS machine guidance
  8. Describe other state DOT’s experience with GPS machine guidance for base course placement
  9. Interim report
  10. Conduct revisions to specifications and field procedures
  11. Conduct outreach – presentations to state DOT and industry – during 2008 – 2009
  12. Final report

Project Information

  • Duration: 12 months
  • Dates: May 1, 2008 – May 1, 2009
  • Budget: $49,985
  • Student Involvement: One undergraduate
  • Modal Orientation: Highway
  • Project ID: CFIRE 02-13
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