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3D-BIM and GIS Applications Save Millions of Dollars for Contractor of JiHe Expressway Expansion Project in China

CCCC First Highway Consultants Company utilized GIS, 3D-BIM, Drones, and a Virtual Reality (VR) platform to create a 3D reality mesh to design, construct and expand the landmark project of Shenzhen JiHe Expressway in China. Using a mix of digital technologies, the stakeholders were able to save more than 100 working days and at least USD 4.85 million in costs.

The city of Shenzhen in China is home to more than 12 million people (2020) and is deemed to be the third largest and fastest-growing city in the country. Over the past decade, the growth in urban population has significantly contributed to the increase in traffic volumes in the city, thereby creating traffic bottlenecks and frequent congestions at critical junctions, one of which is the Shenzhen junction. The Shenzhen connection of the JiHe expressway is of vital importance as it is a core passageway connecting the city’s eastern and western parts.

The JiHe Expressway is China’s largest vertical expansion project until now. It connects the Shenzhen International Airport to He’ao in Shenzhen City, including JiHe West (Airport to Qinghu) and JiHe East (Qinghu to He’ao). The expressway is a part of the Tongsan highway, a coastal national trunk highway, and connects with six other highways ─ Huiyan Expressway (Huizhou – Yantian), Shenshan Expressway (Shenzhen – Shantou), G205 (Shenzhen Section) connecting with Yantian Port (via Yanpai Expressway), and links with Guangshen Expressway (Guangzhou – Shenzhen), G107 (Shenzhen Section) and Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport in the west. 

Reconstruction and Extension of Shenzhen JiHe Expressway

The construction of the original JiHe expressway began in 2004 and it became operational in September 2017. The traffic volume on the expressway increased by 4 percent between 2017 and 2018, thereby leading to more traffic congestion on the entire expressway. Out of the middle, west and east areas of the expressway, the middle section experienced higher traffic volumes, with average traffic volume nearing about 136,000 pcu/day. It is in this context that the Ministry of Transportation in China decided that the strategic location of the project created a need for expansion and reconstruction of individual sections of the expressway.  

The existing ground section of the expressway was 32 meters wide, with six lanes. In contrast, the revised design proposed a width of 41 meters, with eight lanes, for smooth traffic flow. This included a tunnel section with three lanes on each side. With a total budget of USD 6.37 billion for reconstruction and extension, the entire project length was finalized at 130 kilometers, with three centerlines (ground section, left section and right section). Keeping the project scope in mind, the project was contracted for design and construction in 2018 to one of the most renowned design and engineering consultancy firms in China, the CCCC First Highway Consultants Company. 

Key Highlights of the JiHe Expressway Expansion and Reconstruction Project

Advanced Geospatial and BIM Solutions Used to Optimize Design and Construction

The design and construction of the Shenzhen JiHe Expressway was challenging right from the beginning. Since the expressway was situated in a well-established part of the city, the contractor found it extremely difficult to conduct surveys in the area. It was in this context that the contractor decided to use Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs)/drones to map the expressway construction site. The drone images were captured for a 50-kilometer stretch with a precision of 0.076 meter and the elevation precision of 0.116 meter. Using these images, the contractor developed the required reality model of the construction site and also the Digital Elevation Models (DEMs) necessary for civil engineering purposes. 

CCCC First Highway Consultants Company also used the data collected from UAVs/drones to create BIM models in a 3D environment ─ of the nearby roads, bridges and landscaping. They also integrated BIM and GIS vector data, DEM data, Raster/satellite images, design data (2D graphics) to support this large project. 3D Reality Mesh data was created using all the data to make a digital replica of the physical assets. 

The team also used Bentley’s ContextCapture Solutions, which provided the project with reality modeling capabilities to create 3D models of the site. OpenRoads Solutions helped in the development of the BIM models. Bentley’s ProjectWise was used for parametric modeling and design to create a common data environment (CDE) for dynamic and real-time collaboration and to organize and manage the project information. In the CDE, the stakeholders conducted dynamic comparative modeling analysis to ensure that conflicts with the design, if any, could be resolved in advance. 

Further, CCCC First Highway Consultants Company also developed a Virtual Reality (VR) platform to see through layers and move virtually across the project to analyze any errors in real-time. SYNCHRO software was used to analyze and simulate the traffic situations during the construction process to plan the design and construction schedules accordingly.

The following are highlights of all the software used during the project lifecycle:

Software Use
CNCCBIM OpenRoads Jointly developed by CCCC FHCC and Bentley to optimize the workflows
Context Capture Reality modeling
MicroStation General modeling and integrating models
Bentley Map BIM + 3D GIS coordination
Subsurface Utility Engineering Modeling of underground utilities
LUMENRT Visualization
ProjectWise Project collaboration
Synchro Construction simulation and visualization
SDK Developing tools for better efficiency
Other Products Geological modeling, BIM model to GIS conversion

Value Proposition

The use of Bentley’s ContextCapture during the surveying phase saved CCCC First Highway Consultants Company at least 42 working days in work and approximately USD 1.18 million in costs. OpenRoads Solutions, used to develop the BIM models, enhanced the design quality and efficiency of the project, leading to a shortening of the design cycle by 68 working days and saving approximately USD 2.94 million in costs. By streamlining workflows and through collaboration in a Common Data Environment (CDE), the CCCC First Highway Consultants Company saved the stakeholders 33 working days on the project and approximately USD 0.73 million. 

The expansion project of the Shenzhen JiHe Expressway, executed by the CCCC First Highway Consultants Company, is a benchmark for the many construction projects in China. By using advanced geospatial and BIM solutions in the project, the CCCC First Highway Consultants Company has created an opportunity for the Chinese construction industry to make digital models for transportation projects a normal process. 

Optimizing Design and Construction with 3D BIM and GIS tools

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