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Tue August 04 2020

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Road builders turn to Google Earth

16 Dec 14 Costain is using Google Earth to help out on its £193m A556 upgrade in Cheshire because it is simpler to use than CAD.

A Google Earth view of Knutsford
A Google Earth view of Knutsford

Costain building information modelling (BIM) technician James Heaton has devised a way to export a 3D model of the A556 scheme and other geographic information system (GIS) based information to Google Earth. This information can then be viewed and shared with all Google Earth users on the project.

“We’ve added information such as existing services, DOC [development order consent] boundaries and listed buildings,” said Mr Heaton. “Publishing it on Google Earth makes it very accessible. Not everyone is familiar with CAD software, which can be a bit intimidating, but everyone knows how to use Google Earth.”

He added: “Information comes from many different parties and in different formats. Now the project team has it all in one place, and they will also be able to add more data as the job progresses. It’s been very useful for new starters: they can just load up Google Earth and instantly see where we are on the project.”

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The Highways Agency project, which began in November 2014, includes construction of a new section of dual carriageway, and de-trunking to the existing A556 trunk road between M6 Junction 19, near Knutsford, and M56 Junction 7 near Bowdon. Work is expected to be complete in winter 2016/2017.

It’s a project where the tool will be particularly helpful, said Costain design and BIM manager David Owens. “This is a long, thin linear scheme spread over 7.5km with lots of interfaces with features such as local side roads. We’re also working in an environmentally sensitive area with populations of newts and badgers and the tool show us exactly where they are. We’ve also been able to add information such as the location of the two temporary compounds.

“I believe it’s a tool that could prove very useful on any linear project, be it road, rail or utility.”

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MPU
MPU

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