More Corridor Muscle in AutoCAD Civil 3D 2013

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Almost everyone agrees that Corridors are one of Civil 3D’s design strengths. Autodesk continues to push the envelope in the 2013 release of AutoCAD Civil 3D. The Corridor Feature benefits significantly from the new ACAD DWG and tweaked display engine that’s under the hood in Civil 3D 2013.
Take a test Drive and see for yourself. It’s now possible to Drive off-road too. The Drive command for 2013 supports more than Alignment Features too. You may find that useful for quick and dirty visual QA.

A Test Drive in Civil 3D 2013

Corridor Muscles

Even with the basic graphics available on my test machine (it intentionally barely met the 64-bit minimum specifications) almost everything about working with corridors got better. The new AutoCAD Civil 3D 2013 release has more create and edit interface updates and more raw corridor performance fine tuning at work behind the scenes.

Corridor Region specific updates got better (more granular) once again in 2013. As the number of Regions in the corridor increases this does get more obvious in my experience. You get back to work in less time which is what a matters.

A Synergy Effect

The Section Editor interface introduced in 2012 is smoother when the game’s afoot. I was able to construct a nasty little Intersection through a superelevated curve in less time with a lot less hassle. Nah - the new Civil 3D can’t automatically do all the many necessary detailed tweaking work for you yet. But it was a more pleasant and faster experience getting it done. Simply put you’ll notice the “fit and finish effect” in 2013 if you have to go back to 2012.

Assembling the Details

The Corridor in the Section Editor

Assembly construction got a bit more intuitive with automatic lefts and rights being applied to subassemblies on insertion. That frustrating semi-automatic subassembly Group by number method gets replaced with more reasonable Left and Right default Group names. Copying in a constructed Assembly now doesn’t include automatic renaming and renumbering of the subassemblies as part of the process either - Yippie. These things cut down a subassembly renaming time, but they won’t save you from all the necessary maintenance work each and every time.

The subassemblies inside the Assembly Groups are now editable, selectable, and displayable from the Toolspace. When you really need to find the needle in the haystack within an array of Assemblies the process gets easier. If you must construct complex corridors with multiple Intersections with lots of Regions and varied Assemblies you’ll appreciate this.

In the betas I tested I did have to carefully check subassemblies in my pre-existing Assemblies and Assembly Sets. Autodesk has been known to disappear subassemblies, rename them (and the associated codes), and even change behavior via the back end code itself to fix issues and improve things. Since more is changed behind the scenes for Subassembly Features in 2013, expect to perform some QA here. We should know more when the RTM (Release to Manufacturing) ships with the final subassembly content and back-end code. Stay tuned.

Region Geometry Locking

We get more control over how the Regions in Corridors are locked in Civil 3D 2013. By default upgraded corridor regions will be locked to the alignment stations. That was the only option available before. You can now change that behavior.

New 2013 corridor Regions are by default locked to the alignment geometry instead of stations. Since Assemblies and Regions are in effect assigned to deal with specific alignment geometry conditions a geometry lock often makes a lot more sense than a station lock. Yes. A “little” change like this can make a large difference when you must make a major or even minor alignment geometry changes to a complex corridor. This new feature employed wisely may help you avoid major corridor reconstruction tasks that were mandatory before. Now you just have to learn what this difference in Region locking means to your work.

New Things to Rail About

The new release introduces a new Rail Alignment Feature type and a new Cant method of (superelevation) calculation for railway design. The Rail “alinement” type and Cant method were necessary to deal with the chord length mid-chord offset (MCO) definitions, Degree of Curvature (DoC), and Acceleration requirements that are inherit to the Imperial (US) railway geometry design standards. If you find you need to bone up on the federal track safety standards you can find them here.

Rail Alignment

There are new optional Degree of Curvature (DoC) options presented as you add curves and spirals and curves to Rail alignments. The DoC property value is editable in both the Alignment Panorama and Segment editor. The DoC is of course available for all alignments which comes in handy now and then.

Cant U Calc it?

A new Track Width value is a property of only Rail type alignments as it and Design Speed affect the Cant calculations that are attached to the Alignment.

Cant may be applied to Rail alignments in a wizard interface (like the one used for Superelevation). Cant plays by the different railway standards rules and employs separate Rail Design Criteria files. These are supplied in an editable XML format.

Multiple methods of Cant calculation are supported including multiple kinds of Cant rotation and a variety of standard table lookup methods. A new Cant Critical Point Label style supplies annotative access to the calculated Cant data for plan views. There were no Profile labels available in the betas with access to the Cant data. Honestly, they’d perhaps be superfluous in many real world cases anyway.

Rail Alignment with Cant

A really basic single track subassembly is supplied to help you deal with railway corridor construction. That should cover site spurs and basic raid crossings the like pretty well. I didn’t have a chance to attempt racking up more than one of these subassemblies into a more complex multi-track beastie. You can expect to spend some time in Civil 3D 2013's included SubAssembly Composer 2013 (SAC) to construct more elaborate design and/or reconstruction railway subassemblies if you need them.

You’ll also need to invest time in all the many associated Styles that are always involved in corridor publication. Count some new codes in the Civil 3D code set file too. I managed to tweak Jump Platform styles supplied in InstantOn Basic to cover most of the obvious (and not so obvious) stuff relatively quickly.

Corridors certainly put on more muscle in AutoCAD Civil 3D 2013.

That’s Something to Rail About