Monday, July 8, 2013

Getting Started with InfraWorks - Part 4: Adding a Road

Before reading this post, you should probably check out:

Although the title of this post suggests that we're going to do some design, I'm actually referring to dressing up an existing road a bit to make it look better - and eventually to give us something to tie our new roads into. At this point in the project, we've got a nice terrain and some aerial imagery draped over it.  The imagery looks great from a distance but when you zoom in, it starts to look very grainy.  Not a huge deal for some features, but for others you may want to improve their appearance drastically.  I'm going to accomplish this with the existing road on the switchback area shown below by simply adding a new road in its place.

Here's how:

First I need to bring up the Draw Strip.  This is done by clicking the Create/Edit Features button on the main toolbar.  After the Draw Strip is available, I can click the Create Roads [Roads] tool.

Why does this say "Roads" twice?  Well, if you have the Roads and Highways module installed (available if you have the Infrastructure Design Suite Ultimate), then there will be additional tools such as Create Roads [Freeway], Create Roads [Collector], Create Roads [Arterial], Create Roads [Local], etc.

If this is the first time you click the tool, it will open the Style Palette so that you can choose a style to apply to your road.  For this example I'm going to use the Old Paved Road style.  It's not great looking but it'll get us started - and give us the chance to look at styles in another post :)

Now all I need to do is click points along the existing road.  The number and spacing of points is important.  When I pick one point, InfraWorks will assign an elevation from the terrain.  At the next point, the terrain will be used again and the program will draw a straight line between the two points.  At the next point, the terrain elevation will again be used and InfraWorks will apply a spline to add curvature to the road.  If my points are too far apart, there won't be enough elevation samples for the road to adequately match the existing terrain.  

In the image below, you can see how the road slices through the mountainside because it's making a straight line between two of my picks.

Whereas in this image, I have picked more points so the road follows the existing terrain rather than cutting through it.

Remember to double-click your last point to signal InfraWorks that you're ending the command (this takes some getting used to).  When you're done, grips will show up on your newly drawn road.  The box-shaped ones are like square grips in AutoCAD - they let you move within the XY plane - however, the vertex will update to try to match the terrain in its new location.  The cone-shaped grips move in the Z-axis only.  You can use both of these types of grips to adjust your layout.  You can even right click a spot on the road and add a vertex if you need one.

When you're all done, your road will look more like a road instead of a pixellated gray thing.  Although it'll look even better once you do a little style magic - look for a post on that topic in the future.

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