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COWI makes use of new tool to find optimal localization of new road

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COWI and the Swedish Transport Administration use Trimble Quantm to find the best road corridor for a new road on the west coast of Sweden. The tool makes it possible to automate large parts of the analysis process to effectively evaluate all possible road lines.

The project in question is Road 168 which connects Marstrand with Kungälv and E6. The road is heavily trafficked during the summer, so road safety and accessibility have to be improved.

Project with a challenging localization

Field studies on the stretch, including geotechnical and archeological ones, have however made it necessary to assess possible localization in a larger area. The Swedish Transport Administration has therefore assigned COWI, among other things, to establish a road plan with corridor alternatives for the new road. The parties have decided to work with Trimble Quantm to automate parts of the work.

Quantm analyzes all possibilities

Quantm is a tool that simultaneously analyzes input data, such as terrain, alignment costs, such as pavement, structures (bridges, tunnels, retaining walls), material costs for cut and fill, crossing existing features such as roads, rivers, railway and consideration of environmental and social constraints.

Based on the input data as mentioned above, the Quantm software calculates thousands of options to identify the most optimal alignment, and then by  grouping alignments  from lowest cost to most expensive you can show the location of various alignment corridors.

The tool is particularly cost-effective in the investigation phase in order to get a complete overview of all the opportunities available, thus helping planners to identify possible corridors as well as conflicts of interest.

At the pre-feasibility stage, the Quantm software can be used as a tool to aid decision making, determining the macro viability of the road or rail corridor options. The software generates multiple alignments that cluster into primary corridors, while maintaining the 3D geometric requirements and other project constraints. The result is a set of preferred costed alignments for public consultation.

Coordinates all data

Cowi team on Quantm training
Cowi team during Quantm training.

“In general, there are many parameters – hard and soft factors – values and information – to be evaluated in order to reach consensus on a new road localization”, says Victor Cronsby, BIM and data coordinator at COWI. “It is a big challenge to coordinate all the information in this type of assignment.”

“Quantm provides the opportunity to digitally coordinate all the input data and technical conditions to efficiently and controlled generate recommendations for road lines and corridors. We have to work with input data, requirements and conditions nevertheless, but Quantm provides an effective tool to do the coordination. Plus, that it – in a controlled way – mass-generates line alternatives using objective algorithms.”

Sees the benefits

How does the client, the Swedish Transport Administration view this type of work methodology?

“It is always both exciting and scary to test new things”, says Jenny Andersson, the Swedish Transport Administration's project manager in the project. “We definitely see the benefits of using modern tools. We do, however, want to be involved in the process in order to understand the consequences of choices and alignment decisions made in the planning process.”

“We simply collect all parameters, values and input data in Quantm through a dynamic process”, Victor Cronsby explains further. “Scenarios with different start and end points are chosen strategically. Documentation, rulings, communication and other processes play a major role for the end product.”

Evaluating more alternative localizations

“We are still at an early stage in the project regarding the work with Quantm, but we already see a considerable potential in the software”, he continues. “The tool is suitable for finding balanced road localization alternatives. In addition to providing coherent control of our aggregated data and generating road line recommendations, it is also an advantageous communication tool. COWI expects to be able to evaluate a larger number of strategic road lines/corridors than otherwise possible, which has a positive effect on TKI.”

“In other words, it is an exciting project and a modern way of managing localization alternatives. Trimble Quantm, together with COWI's strategic working methods on MCA/workshops and holistic thinking – and not least the skills of the colleagues – give us an edge in the market. It is fun that the Swedish Transport Administration is involved in driving the development forward.”
- Victor Cronsby, BIM and data coordinator at COWI