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A Publication Featuring The Information Services Technology of Maine State Government
|Volume VII, Issue 6||June 2004|
When the Maine Department of Transportation (MaineDOT) engineers began the task of designing and building a replacement for the Waldo-Hancock Bridge last summer, they faced several major hurdles. One of the biggest was time. Because a routine rehabilitation had uncovered unexpected levels of cable corrosion on the historic old bridge, the department had to move fast to get new construction underway. But the Waldo-Hancock was an icon for the region, which meant the community was deeply interested in all the details of its replacement. Helping them to understand what a new bridge would look like was key.
Clickwww.waldohancockbridge.com and follow the links to view the drive and fly over computer simulations.
The MaineDOT had engaged Figg Engineering Group (FIGG) to design the new bridge, and FIGG’s computer-generated graphics were a highlight of the public meetings. The continuing advancement of graphic technology has enhanced public involvement in the design process. Three-dimensional renderings increase the public’s ability to be engaged by providing true-form visual imagery of aesthetic options.
For example, during the process of developing bridge concepts, several different structural options were presented to the local communities. Before this technology was available, two-dimensional drawings and hand-drawn sketches were the best way to portray the appearance of a given option. This was good, but didn’t give the public the sense of how a three-dimensional structure would actually appear. With current graphic capabilities, the public can be presented with three-dimensional computer-generated models of the proposed structure, set into photographs of the actual site. This is further enhanced with "fly-by" and "drive-through" movies that allow viewers to experience the structure from different perspectives and vantage points. Often, the animations and still images are so detailed that it is difficult to determine if the movie is a completed project or simply a concept.
During the workshop sessions for the new Penobscot River Crossing, community members were asked to comment on a variety of cable-stay bridge styles, including single and double-plane versions. But simply looking at a two-dimensional rendering of a bridge cannot communicate the experience of driving through different cable arrangements. "People’s opinions were significantly influenced by how they felt about the complexity or simplicity of the cable arrangements as they ‘drove over’ the bridge," said Bruce Van Note, deputy commissioner of MaineDOT. "In the end, it was the desire for simplicity – reinforced by the computer simulation of the bridge and the observatory concept – that attracted them to the single-pylon option."
Based on the MaineDOT’s experience, the advantages of using computer imagery in the public involvement process are clear. Seeing a graphic image removes the doubt from people’s minds about the project’s appearance or integration into the site. Images can be developed from prominent vantage points or other points of interest specific to the project. The public can experience the project at an early stage and provide valuable feedback regarding design options at a time when it can be cost-effectively incorporated into the project.
Questions? Contact Carol Morris by calling Garrand & Co 772-3119 x 21.
Interested in watching the progress of the Waldo-Hancock bridge replacement project? If so, keep an eye on this web site – which sports two web cams (for each side of the Penobscot River) http://www.waldohancockbridge.com/waldo-county-bridge/webcam.php. Web cam photos are updated every two minutes. The site also contains still photographs, news and information, citizen comments etc.