Huitt Zollars improves design of $72.2-million road project

Roads & Highways


California’s Orange County has started a $72.2-million roadway project in the hilly terrain between the cities of San Juan Capistrano and San Clemente. The La Pata Avenue Gap Closure and Camino Del Rio Extension project will link two existing roadway segments, providing a north/south connection between the cities.

The existing La Pata Avenue was built in the 1970s as a dead-end access road to a landfill. Project plans involve widening that 1.8-mile road from three to five lanes (with a climbing lane for trucks) and building almost two miles of a new four-lane road that will cut southward through the middle of the landfill to connect with existing road networks.

OC_LaPata_FullViewAlthough the road is a little less than four miles, it crosses hillside ridges and valleys, geological landslides, as well as several streams and other ecologically sensitive habitats.  And even though the project had environmental clearance and final design had begun, several of the project stakeholders were requesting changes to the project that would result in redesigning large sections of the roadway.  Changes included:

  • A redesigned interchange (tight diamond) for landfill access
  • Remedial grading to remove approximately 750,000 cubic yards of waste
  • Reduction of nearly 2,500,000 cubic yards of embankment that was previously needed to buttress a major landslide
  • Over 1,000,000 cubic yards of reduced cut and fill throughout other areas of the project
  • Modified overall typical roadway section to reduce the standard parkway, shoulder, and median widths by 20 feet

Huitt-Zollars used AutoCAD Civil 3D to significantly reduce the cost of a road project Autodesk  InfraWorks 360 to help communicate with stakeholders during the construction on the project.

When you have a 3-D design where you can calculate quantities, it’s really easy to come up with the cost. Before, it would have been a very segmented and time-consuming process to get to those costs.” – Scott Reed, PE, Huitt-Zollars.

“I was impressed with Huitt-Zollars’ ability to quickly study numerous concepts and report on quantities and estimated costs.  That really helped us in reaching equitable solutions with our project stakeholders.” – Harry Persaud, Orange County.

Customers are requesting additional information about the project now that construction has begun.  Autodesk InfraWorks allows the design firm to create models and visually communicate information about the project to all stakeholders along the route.  Although it was not used in the early conceptual design phases, it has been a useful tool in communicating and coordinating with the clients.

 “I don’t want to say the ‘old days,’ because it wasn’t that long ago, but we would march further ahead in the design process before coming to the presentation stage. If there needed to be a significant amount of change, then there was a considerable amount of redesign before you got back to presentation stage. Now that whole process is to design a little, present a little, and it’s much more efficient.” Scott Reed, PE, Huitt-Zollars.


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This project won 3rd place – 2014 Excellence in Infrastructure – Scott Reed, Huitt-Zollars accepts award at AU2014. For more information on the Excellence in Infrastructure competition, visit

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