Aurora communicates design intent


So you’ve heard about InfraWorks 360, maybe you’ve seen a demonstration of it, watched an online video, or read an article about it. But why haven’t you actually considered giving it a try for yourself?

Maybe you’re thinking that you just don’t have the time to learn a new software program. Perhaps you’ve been through it before – trying to implement new technology in an environment that is resistant to change – and you’re just not up for that. You may even be thinking that you just don’t see where InfraWorks 360 can fit into your day-to-day technology needs.

Well thankfully, one user didn’t let any of this stand in her way. Julie Turner-Mitchell has been working in the CAD world for over 20 years and is a veteran Civil 3D user. She currently works for the City of Aurora, CO as a Senior AutoCAD Operator preparing construction documents and aiding with the in-house design operations of the city. Not long ago she saw a demo of InfraWorks 360 and was intrigued. Rather than just raising an eyebrow and then going back to business as usual, she saw something special there and decided to do something with it.


One of Julie’s first InfraWorks 360 models

What magical approach did she use to get started? What stars aligned that enabled her to achieve what she did with InfraWorks 360? No magic, no stars – she just got to it. And it didn’t take her long to realize that InfraWorks 360 is so easy to learn that she could be up and running and productive with it in a very short time. With a combination of learning on her own and bouncing a few questions off her reseller and a few other resources, Julie was soon creating some amazing InfraWorks models And when she started showing them to the folks at the City of Aurora, something magical happened. As people looked at her work and learned about the relatively small amount of time and effort required to produce it, they immediately began to see the possibilities. It wasn’t long until they were asking Julie to do more, and not just a little bit more: how about a 10+ mile rail project!

So let’s pause for a moment. Julie could have ignored InfraWorks 360, stuck to doing her thing with Civil 3D, and gone back to business as usual. But instead, she chose to invest a little time and take a little bit of a risk on a new technology. And now, she’s front and center on one of the most important projects in the history of the City of Aurora. Did her actions pay off? I’d say so.

The Aurora Line I-225 Light Rail is a 680 million dollar project, 10.5 miles in length with 8 individual stations. When the folks at the City of Aurora asked Julie to model this project in InfraWorks 360, she knew just what to do. She used available GIS data to build out existing terrain, roads, and buildings. Where necessary, she downloaded 3D models and added them in for more detail. She even used coverages to add more definition and detail to areas that needed it. These tasks in themselves were relatively easy but she did find that as the model grew, she needed to upgrade her hardware so that her computer could keep up.

Once she had the existing conditions established, Julie called on her Civil 3D skills and her understanding of design to begin building in the proposed work. She added the rail centerlines as data sources and used InfraWorks 360 styles to represent them as rails. To make sure the railways were accurately represented, she referenced the construction plans and assigned elevations to the railway profiles according to design. Then, to add context and realism, she added 3D models of stations, benches, signs and other details.


Colfax Station looking east


City Center Station looking Southeast


Florida Station under pedestrian bridge

After only a few months, Julie accomplished her goal: she modeled the entire 10.5 mile project as an InfraWorks 360 model and the City of Aurora now has an accurate, data-rich visual representation of this important addition to their city’s infrastructure. According to Julie, for people who don’t have access to construction plans or do not understand how to read them, this model gives them access to the project and allows them to understand what it looks like, how it spatially relates to its surroundings, and how it impacts the City of Aurora. And because it’s a live model, you can pick out nearly any spot in the city and see the impact of the project at that location. And if that isn’t enough, this InfraWorks model isn’t a one-time thing – It continues to be viewed, studied, modified, and analyzed throughout the life of the project and likely long after it is completed.

I asked Julie what advice she had for people who were curious about InfraWorks. Her response was to “Go out and start!” In other words, get your hands on the software, learn to use it (it’s incredibly easy to learn), and start building your first model or two. Julie also advises that you’ll run into skeptics: people who think that you’re just creating a pretty picture. But keep pushing forward because once they see the project in InfraWorks 360 they will immediately “get it”. They’ll see just how useful InfraWorks 360 can be for enabling the understanding of a design through clarity and context. And when they find out how little time and effort it took to create it, they’ll be asking when you can do the next one. Don’t believe me? You must have skipped everything in this article before this point because that’s exactly what happened to Julie Turner-Mitchell. Julie also advises that you shouldn’t try to use InfraWorks 360 to do the same things that you’ve been doing with Civil 3D or other products in the same way you’ve been doing them. InfraWorks 360 is something new, and what it does is something new.

Since taking the plunge into the world of InfraWorks 360, Julie has created a new skillset for herself that is already keeping her busy. She has completed more projects since the Aurora Line and has more on the horizon. One such project was the construction of a proposed high-wall for which Julie’s InfraWorks 360 model was instrumental in helping the city council make important decisions about how and if that wall would be constructed. Julie is taking her career in an exciting new direction and has put herself in a unique position of value to the City of Aurora.
More often than not, new technologies are brought into an organization by one of the users – not someone from upper management. And in a world where technology is ever-changing and as a result, roles that involve technology are ever-changing, Julie may have just secured a new role for herself rather than staying in one that technology might someday phase out. Still thinking InfraWorks 360 isn’t for you? Imagine if Julie had felt that way.

With lots to gain, what have you got to lose? Get started by downloading the InfraWorks 360 trial hereSee this project and other’s in the InfraWorks 360 Gallery.


JTM-PROFILEJulie Turner-Mitchell is a Senior AutoCAD Operator for the City of Auorora, CO. You can view Julie’s project in the InfraWorks 360 gallery here.






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