Using HighRoad? It is like riding a bike...
HighRoad has been designed to be easy to learn and easy to remember.
This ease of use is illustrated in the selection of HighRoad by the TRAC Program of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) for its hands-on education outreach program. TRAC (Transportation and Civil Engineering) is designed to integrate practical engineering applications and problems into science, math and social studies classes. The curriculum utilises a omputer and mini-lab of electronic equipment (TRAC PAC) that includes HighRoad in the classroom.
During the classroom session, HighRoad is used by the students to design and layout roads interactively on a terrain they create from a list of points. The software allows them to experiment with various aspects of design and get immediate feedback. As they change the alignment of the road, the superelevation changes to see the mathematics of friction in action. When the design is finished, they can generate a drive through simulation complete with traffic to see how their ideas work.
Most of the engineers and other design professionals who use HighRoad are outside Australia and all but one or two have taught themselves how to use the software.
HighRoad is versatile enough to be used across the world from designing roads in the world's highest city, La Paz, Bolivia, to highways on the plains of Minnesota, USA. Other projects include a yacht basin in the Caribbean, seawalls in Ireland, land sub-divisions and conveyor route design in Australia, cobbled street rehabilitation in Belgium, urban arterial motorways in Colombia, and resource haul roads in the rugged Coast Range of western Canada.
Other users have used their creativity to adapt HighRoad tools in interesting ways that were not originally envisaged. For example, you can use road cross-sections to measure the water volume in a dam. You can use the building pad with its surface fully below ground level to represent a lake. A road entirely in cut can become a drainage channel.
Creative Engineering recently contacted three Australian engineering companies that use HighRoad to update news on their experiences. All remember that it took only a short time to become familiar with the software.
For AusPacific Engineers at Nerang the great strength of HighRoad is as a planning tool. Rod Holmes, Director, says "The land available for development on the Gold Coast now is quite steep. It is critical to be able to have a well developed design even at development approval stage. Using aerial mapping (which is cheap as chips and surprisingly accurate) and HighRoad's interactive design we can throw a quick layout over the site in no time flat."
Within days they can produce a highly reliable preliminary design. "If we get in early enough, we can use the roads to control the layout of the subdivision from an engineering point of view. After only a few hours, I know the best place to put the roads, know at planning stage that the grades are achieveable, the lots can all have access, building pads can fit on sites and cuts are not too deep. The Council can see that the design will work."
Wal Mullany, Cliff Consulting, Wollongong has been using the software since 1988 (when it was called MacRoad). He estimates that it takes about two hours to learn if using the cross section survey method and if using points, joining edge points and feature strings, it takes only a day if you are familiar with terrain models.
Typically, he uses HighRoad for blocks of two to three weeks at a time. When he returns to using HighRoad "it is like riding a bike - it all comes back quickly".
His projects include preliminary road layouts for residential subdivision (200 lots utilising sensitive urban design), stormwater drainage long sections, sewage design and both rural and urban roads. He finds using HighRoad's Construct Road feature to see the finished surface and levels an easy way to check the design for a stormwater layout .
Barry Wilson & Associates, Warrnambool originally used HighRoad for a major road project - a 12 metre wide pavement through a large cutting. Highroad was used for the digital terrain model and roadway and intersection design for the entire first stage. They found it very easy to redesign and redraw sections of pavement, saving many hours of manual 'number crunching'.
Brian Dufty remembers that the best thing about using HighRoad for the first project was that if minor changes to the grade line were needed it was very simple to produce the new long sections and costings. The project would not have been completed as fast if they had not used HighRoad.
HighRoad runs on Windows 95, 98, 2000, XP, NT 4.0, and Macintosh, and uses industry standard formats for road design and terrain data.
HighRoad has been developed by highway design engineer, Chris Baker, Director of Creative Engineering Australia. His key objective has always been to put simplicity and creativity back into road design software.