Civil Engineering Software Minimizes Cut/Fill

By Karen Cummings • March 17th, 2016
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Carlson RoadNETwork to the rescue…

“The less dirt you have to move to build a road, the better.”

Beals Associates switched from Land Desktop to the Carlson Civil Suite

Christian Smith (left) and Scott Cole of Beals Associates in Stratham, N.H., get the job done with the Carlson Civil Suite.

That statement by Christian Smith, PE, principal of Beals Associates of Stratham, N.H., could be the single most reason the company is happy with their switch from Land Desktop to the Carlson Civil Suite.

“My favorite is RoadNETwork,” says Senior Project Manager Scott Cole. “We used it on a very steep site – a 32-lot residential subdivision – and came up with three iterations of road layout to fight the grade.”

The decision was made to change the location of a couple of the roads. “We had two long cul-de-sacs that roughly intersected at their midpoint, but due to the differences in elevation of the existing roads and the slopes that we were fighting, we had to change the locations of the centerline to a more appropriate elevation,” explained Cole, noting that Carlson Civil’s RoadNETwork allowed them to just slide the road to where it worked out better.

“By having all road parameters basically set and then just moving the centerline, in an instant you can see the new location and what the ramifications of moving it are,” said Cole. “You don’t have to rebuild it every time you make a change.”

“With RoadNETwork, you can grip/edit a centerline and have the whole thing seamlessly and dynamically updates,” added Smith. “That is the coolest thing I’ve experienced in the software.”

Smith also explained that their company, which deals mainly with residential subdivisions, commercial site development design, septic design, and environmental permitting, often has to present several different plan options to municipalities to make it easier for planning boards to make educated decisions. RoadNETwork makes it much easier for them to do that.

Getting up to speed with Carlson
It was about two years ago that Smith, Cole, and others at the five-person civil engineering office started looking around for a replacement for their decidedly out-of-date software. “We knew we needed to upgrade the software so we started looking and comparing,” said Smith, who noted that they looked at Civil 3D, but it was basically a price consideration that had them decide on Carlson.

“Rick Ladd [of Cadnet Services in Manchester, N.H.] did ‘lunch & learns’ and it just looked like Carlson was a comparable package for a lot less money,” said Smith, adding that as a “wise” businessman who lived through the residential housing downturn of 2008-09, pricing was important to him.

They then hired Ladd to do two four-hour training sessions while making the transition. “There were obvious growing pains,” said Smith, “but the presentations made it a lot easier.”

Challenging, but fun, projects

Utilizing the Carlson Civil Suite for a challenging project.

Beals Associates is using the Carlson Civil Suite for the design work on a challenging sports complex project.

One of the newest projects Beals Associates is utilizing the Carlson Civil Suite on is a 90-acre property with a sizable amount of wetlands where they have to “shoe-horn” in six baseball fields, three or four soccer fields, a large parking area, and potentially a soccer stadium for a sports club in southern N.H.

“We are just beginning on it and we’re having to manipulate the network of roads in fields that aren’t necessarily going to be right next to each other because of the wetlands,” said Smith. “It’s going to be field turf so we have to deal with the underdrain in washed stone that collects the storm water.”

Being highly familiar with Carlson through their extensive design work on commercial and residential development projects is helping them with this challenging project.

“Current rules are a lot more restrictive and require a lot more data,” explained Smith. “One of the things we have to determine as a potential permit trigger is the amount of disturbed land,” Smith said, “and when you use RoadNETwork, it gives you the area disturbed automatically.”

So, it seems the Carlson Civil Suite is doing the job for Beals Associates. “We’ve used the software for close to two years now,” said Smith. “We have four seats of it and are thinking of buying another.”

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