Engineer envisions unheard-of solutions

Traffic engineering software

When resource companies develop an oil well or get logging rights to a particular forest, one of their first questions is, Do we have to build a road? Their next question is, Who can help us build it? That is where McElhanney expertise comes in handy. They provide surveying, engineering, mapping and other specialty services to design solutions for resource-based clients across western Canada and beyond.

Wil Moroz is a geographic information systems civil technologist working for McElhanney’s Penticton, British Columbia, office. He has worked in the resource sector for about 20 years, helping companies with building roads and bridges to gain access to the project areas. As he will tell you, the roads are rarely perfect ribbons of asphalt. During his career, he has helped design both conventional and unconventional roads, using AutoTURN from Transoft Solutions.

“Highways are different as they are going to be there for the long term,” said Moroz. “Resource roads are a more extreme example; it’s more like a roller coaster. When it comes to building resource roads, every dollar counts. So if I build a road that’s a bit too wide, or a little too narrow, there are cost overruns and constant maintenance issues. For a major resource client or projects that are going on in northern British Columbia, they don’t want to spend any more money than they have to. They want to be in and out and get the job done. AutoTURN plays into that by demonstrating that if I only need a 5-meter road, why would I build it to 7 meters?”

Technology enables people like Moroz to visualize solutions to engineering problems unheard of even 10 years ago. He recalled one example: “There was one site we worked on with a very steep grade with a hairpin turn at the bottom, right where we wanted to put a bridge. There was no way to get this road to not have a curve on the bridge. It was almost impossible. I used AutoTURN just to see what the width would have to be of the bridge to make that work. A colleague said, ‘Why don’t we just double up the width of the bridge and put a curve over top of it?’ Just through me playing with AutoTURN, we came up with a solution to the problem.”

Moroz continued, “Twenty years ago, with a site like this we would have said, We’re not going there. We can’t get a truck in there. We now have this whole valley that we’ve opened up for logging just through the use of AutoTURN. The program spurred on more thought from an engineering point of view on how we can make this work. It used to be that using software like this was a corrective measure at first. Now it’s a preventative measure. We are able to prevent a lot of errors and save cost overruns on the construction end of projects by having this product run through our design and reduce errors. That is the key.”

Johns is with Transoft Solutions.

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