Improve road, tunnel and bridge workflows

Civil 3D

China’s Sichuan province is famed not only for its distinctive cuisine, but also for the kind of challenging terrain that stymies highway construction projects. SCODI, a Sichuan based engineered firm, was recently awarded an engineering feasibility study for the $1.42 billion Circle Highway of XC City.

This new 69-kilometer long highway would circle the Sichuan highlands via bridges, tunnels, side hill cuts, and interchanges. For SCODI, the challenge was not just designing a feasible highway, but selling that design to government and regional officials.


This project was submitted to the 2013 Excellence in Infrastructure Awards Program.  To learn more about the program and submit for 2016, visit the awards program site – AEC Excellence Awards.

Project summary

The province of Sichuan, China is in the early planning stages of very large transportation project located in the highlands of southwest China. The first stage of the planning effort—an engineering feasibility study—was recently completed by the province’s transportation design organization: the Sichuan Transportation Design Institute of China (SCODI). The proposed project will include approximately 70 kilometers of a highway passing through cities and villages in the varied terrain of the highlands, including several river crossings, as well as tunnels into and bridges over mountain slopes. The total cost of the project is currently estimated to be almost $1.42 billion.

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Unique challenges

  • The local government who is the project owner requested an animated way to help them understand the project more than they could with 2D drawings.
  • There was little time left for SCODI to finish the engineering feasibility study as well as the animation.
  • SCODI  had only two raster files and a DWG file which included the information of terrain, buildings, roads and water areas.
  • The highway is 80 km/hour design speed, 32m subgrade width, and nearly 70km.

The solution


SCODI used a variety of Autodesk software products, including Autodesk® AutoCAD® Map 3D, Autodesk® AutoCAD® Civil 3D®, Autodesk® 3ds Max® Design, and Autodesk® InfraWorks 360 software, to develop the feasibility study more accurately and efficiently. As part of the study, SCODI created 3D project models and animations to help provincial and local government organizations better understand the details and scope of the project.

Beginning with just a few raster maps of the area and a CAD file that included existing conditions of the terrain, buildings, roads, and water features, SCODI converted this data into an intelligent 3D map of the project area.


Using this base, they sketched the horizontal alignments and vertical profiles for the new roadway, and used corridor modeling features to create a 3D model of the highway.


Sketching roads with InfraWorks 360

While viewing the model in the context of the surrounding cities, villages, building, and terrain, the team added further details such as bridges, tunnels, and highway interchanges—including a number of design options for various portions of the proposal such as sidehill cuts and bridges instead of tunneling through the area’s foothills.

The results

The virtual project models helped SCODI visualize and improve its design proposal. In addition, the team used these models to quickly and cost-effectively generate a series of animations and drive-through/fly-over simulations of the project. These project visualizations helped the design team communicate the project to nontechnical representatives from the project owners and local government officials, who would find it difficult to understand such a complex project based on traditional 2D drawings.

Model-based design

  • Existing conditions – most design institutes for transportation in China don’t have GIS data when they start a project, and SCODI had only a DWG file which included the information of terrain, buildings, roads and water areas to start. But AutoCAD Map3D helped SCODI to transfer the file to GIS data according to AutoCAD layers.
  • Preliminary engineering of the interchange in InfraWorks 360 – often engineers waste too much time drawing the interchange, but now, SCODI just needed to sketch it in InfraWorks 360.  Then they exported the preliminary design to AutoCAD Civil3D for a quick and visible design for the Engineering Feasibility Study.

Preliminary engineering in context of exiting conditions – InfraWorks 360

Integrated analysis

InfraWorks 360 provide a visible way to explore several proposals, which made it very helpful for non-professionals and professional designers to understand the project. It’s hard to express complex proposals such as circle tunnel in 2D drawings, but in the 3D world, it’s so free and visible to explore the real project.


SCODI paid a lot of money to another company for animations previously, but now they could easily learn and create the animations  – some in InfraWorks 360 and others in 3DsMax by CivilView, because they had created a Civil3D model.


Visualization in 3dx Max


Visualization with InfraWorks 360

Project delivery

  • Time savings – At the end of deadline, SCODI finished the Engineering Feasibility Study as well as made several presentations for owners, experts, officials, and local government.
  • Money savings – paying third parties to create visualizations was no longer necessary.
  • Performance – Thanks to BIM, SCODI addressed any design issues efficiently, finished the project in time, and won the praise and trust from the owners and local government.


 Sustainability impacts

When SCODI created the first proposal, they found that the design with high-cut slope is not the correct option.  This issue would have been impossible to find with traditional 2D CAD.  The accurate BIM model really transformed assessments for the team.


“Thanks to Autodesk BIM and InfraWorks 360, we finished this project on time and won praise and trust from the owners and local government. That’s so important for us as we bid on the next phase!” SCODI Spokesperson, Sichuan Transportation Design Institute of China


SCODI, founded in 1957, is affiliated to the DOT of Sichuan in China like its counterparts in other provinces. It’s a typical and authoritative institute for transportation. The business scope include planning and design for transportation, road and bridge design, port and dock design, survey and geotechnical, environmental design, soil and water conservation, water resource assessment and safety evaluation.

What’s new?

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