California Dept. of Transportation Moves to AutoCAD Civil 3D for All New Projects

Categories: Engineering Infrastructure


By Karen Weiss, Autodesk

California’s Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is a massive operation with a huge scope of responsibilities managing more than 50,000 miles of California's highway and freeway lanes.  And its role also covers inter-city rail services, and more than 400 public-use airports and special-use hospital heliports.  When Caltrans makes a technology decision, the entire nation’s transportation civil engineers and DOT insiders really sit up and take notice.

For example, back in June of 2011 Caltrans made the bold decision to replace its aging Autodesk CAiCE software they were using for road and highway design projects statewide with AutoCAD Civil 3D.  It’s all part of a growing trend in the US and globally to move to a BIM process, and solutions to support it.

Caltrans is now in their second year of implementing AutoCAD Civil 3D, with nearly 2000 engineers and surveyors already trained on the software. Their success to date has led to the signing of a memo earlier this year by the Chief of the Division of Design. The memo stated that all new projects starting July 1, 2014 will be designed using Civil 3D, bringing to an end the use of CAiCE by Caltrans engineers and surveyors.

2 3D visualization of Presidio Parkway, San Francisco.  Image courtesy of Parsons Brinckerhoff.

Having managed a statewide implementation of engineering design software when I worked for the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, I know what a huge accomplish it is for the folks at Caltrans to have made it to this point. They are among a growing number of DOTs that are finding benefits in changing the way they work, despite the challenges associated with implementation.

Caltrans has created software standards files and workflows to support Caltrans processes. This will help users, inside and outside of the DOT, comply with special Caltrans requirements.

3AutoCAD Civil 3D design for El Dorado County DOT roadway project.  Image courtesy of EDCDOT.

Learn more about the Caltrans announcement here.

Learn more about Autodesk solutions for roads and highways here.

Originally published in Autodesk’s BIM on the Rocks blog.