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Google Earth Assists Highways Project

15 December 2014

A Costain team is using Google Earth to gain a comprehensive view of its £193 million A556 upgrade in Cheshire. 

James Heaton, Costain Building Information Modelling (BIM) Technician, has devised a way to export the scheme’s 3D model and other GIS (geographic information system) based information to Google Earth. This information can then be viewed and shared with all Google Earth users on the project, from administrative staff to senior engineers. It is believed to be the first time the idea has been used on a Costain project.

“We’ve added information such as existing services, DOC (Development Order Consent) boundaries and listed buildings,” said James. “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.”

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 David Owens, Costain Design and BIM Manager.

“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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