Imaging software improves planning for Doyle Drive seismic work

SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) -- As if Bay Area drivers haven't had enough road closures, Doyle Drive will be shut down the weekend of May 28th as the seismic replacement of Doyle Drive continues.

KTVU went to a meeting Monday where some amazing computer technology that is making construction easier and more predictable was on display.

For highway projects, blue prints and artistic rendering remain important, but this new imagine technology changes everything.

When Caltrans and San Francisco undertook to replace the Golden Gate Bridge's Doyle Drive approach, they used state-of-the-art software to see and understand what it would look and feel like before and during construction.

What they used is a high tech 3D/4D visualization system similar to a driving video game from San Rafael-based Autodesk. The idea behind using the system was to understand not just the project, but the total environment the project will be a part of.

The software shows the view winding through the Presidio, overlooking San Francisco Bay and Crissy Field as well as the approach and departures to the Golden Gate Bridge.

"Simply look and understand and visualize the environment before construction begins," said Tristan Randell, who is with Autodesk's Strategic Projects Division.

"You're literally in the project, as it's going to look, once it's completed," says Kevin Gilson, Director of Design Visualization for construction giant Parson's Brinkerhoff, the firm building Doyle Drive.

The software empowers everyone from decision makers to taxpayers.

"This really bucks the trend top down decision making that's dominated projects in the past. Really engaging the citizenry as early as possible; giving them immersive and visual ways to understand the project," said Randell.

"Those that aren't necessarily technical; decision makers are definitely more able to see the project," adds Mr. Gilson.

It's important to get everyone on the same page so that, if necessary, changes can be done sooner than later.

"You don't have to get into the field to find a problem. Before you get to the field you can identify those problems," said Caltrans Bay Area Division Chief Skip Sowko. He says that saves time, aggravation and money.

All future projects will likely use this or similar technology, a technology that arrived way too late for utilization on the Bay Bridge.

"The simulator is unique in that it gives you the ability to steer as you're driving through, which is a completely different experience than a fly over animation," said Gilson.

Doyle Drive will be closed from 10 p.m. Thursday, May 28th until 5 a.m. Monday, June 1st.