District 1 inspectors to introduce GPS technology,
On-Site software in the field on Sand Creek Byway
One of the oldest highway construction projects on ITD’s design shelves will benefit from the newest in global positioning satellite technology when equipment starts rolling early next year.
The Sand Creek Byway, a new 2.1-mile segment of U.S. 95 that will remove through traffic from downtown Sandpoint, will be the first field test for the On-Site computer program.
On-Site is a component of a software suite from Bentley Corp. that ITD introduced in 2007 as part of a major CADD (computer assisted design and drafting) upgrade, explains project manager Ray Oldham. He said ITD will exchange underutilized parts of the Bentley suite for On-Site, which was not included in the initial software purchase.
He compares it with Microsoft’s Office suite that integrates stand-alone programs like Word or PowerPoint into a package that incorporates many common elements. On-Site will enable ITD to extend its application of Bentley’s suite to applications in the field.
On-Site uses electronic data from design and pushes it out into construction. It should result in more accurate construction and improve the inspection process, Oldham explains.
Construction design plans, oversized documents of 300-500 pages, will be reduced to electronic files on computers that can be linked to a GPS system through On-Site. Inspectors in the field will be able to more accurately identify specific locations (such as pipes and culverts) using a computer rather than complex design books.
Contractors who use machine-controlled devices (construction equipment with GPS capabilities) will be able to grade and pave to satellite-based coordinates rather than conventional “blue-top” hubs and stakes placed by surveys.
The new technology is more accurate, saves time, and will result in less impact on the environment, Oldham says. Graders will be able to make fewer cuts and fills, based on GPS coordinates.
The On-Site program also will enable inspectors to keep electronic diaries, and eventually, could simplify the billing/payment process.
Oldham will meet with project designers and engineers in District 1 next month to discuss potential uses of the On-Site software.
ITD already is processing orders for four special Panasonic laptop computers that are built for the rigors and extreme demands of fieldwork and an office-based computer.
When fully utilized, On-Site can be used as part of the infrastructure lifecycle of a project from planning and design to design management, estimating, construction, construction services and operations/maintenance.
Oldham credits the collaboration of Headquarters Design, Construction and Enterprise Technology sections, District 1 construction and technology sections and Bentley Systems for making On-Site a viable tool for the Sand Creek Byway.
ITD will join only a half-dozen states nationwide in the use of this technology in highway construction. New York, Minnesota, Michigan and Florida pioneered the use of Bentley’s On-Site application.