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Control By Intersections

Tags design control, alignment, corridor, intersection, training

Want to be a civil engineering design wizard in AutoCAD Civil 3D? You must master the Intersection Wizard. The Intersection Wizard sits atop the magic design control tower in Civil 3D. The way to the top seems to go around and around.

That means you must have established a mastery over the Civil 3D Design Control Manager – the Alignment and the beast we name Complex Corridors. You can read about them here. Become a member on the site for free and learn more. You can also probably find presentations I did at previous Autodesk Universities on the topics in AU Virtual.

We do grading and subdivision design. We don’t need that highway design crap.”

May the Force Be With You

The Civil 3D Intersection Wizard, like all wizards is a multi-page app. The multi-step process is all about establishing forms of managed control on the way to an integrated goal or whole if you prefer.

Step By Step

If you do through all the pages of the Intersection Wizard all at once, you probably don’t know what you are doing or at least aren’t clear about what you are doing. Ouch. You watched an intro video or took a class by someone who might hardly know more than you. Most of the Civil 3D courseware I’ve seen teaches the Intersection tools in one pass. Are they saving paper?
In my opinion that’s a disservice to all Civil 3D designers learning the craft.

One Two Three

  1. Where’s the horizontal control?
  2. Where’s the vertical control?
  3. Where’s the section control?

Stop at each step. There are not so obvious How, What, and probably Why questions involved at each step of the process. That does not count the QAQC follow up and clean up that should always be involved before you move on.

One of the best things about the Intersection Wizard in the ability to substantially develop the complex Horizontal Control and then the related Vertical Control before you move on.
How well you learn to bend the rules within the confines prescribed by the tools is what Intersection and Corridor design skill is all about.
Hint. Do you end up with a slew of alignments etc or fewer more useful ones as things get more complicated? The first is probable. The second is possible and more productive.

In Search of Intersections

Do you build “dirty” Intersections to build the parts of more complex intersections and more complex corridors? Could the search for Intersections itself be a significant AutoCAD Civil 3D design skill. Hmmmm? Can you manage that interrelated data in the project and model-based context that is AutoCAD Civil 3D? Obviously, this has something to do with Better Deliverables, doesn't it?

Mastery takes Practice

We all know this phrase but we don’t always do it. By practice I mean repetitions. I do mean lots of repetitions. There is no way around execution. That is frustrating.

This does not mean the occasional on-the-job practice solving the current problems in your project.
That is like stepping up to the plate in the ninth inning of a baseball playoff game having never taken batting practice. Your odds of success are realistically zero.
The lack of preparation is not an excuse for failure.
The failure to prepare creates failure.

People ask, “How many intersections did it take you to learn how to do that?”

A Fair Enough Question

10 to 25 to get the basics down. Around a 100 to understand the tool fundamentals. A few hundred to develop a mastery the nuances and details involved to solve many civil engineering problems. I’ve done thousands. That probably isn’t necessary.

I can honestly testify I spent 15-30 minutes a day for a long time testing the geometric complexities that are possible. Can I solve this problem? If I don’t practice, I loose and forget the nuance. I still learn new and better and faster ways to get from A to B that didn’t, and actually could not, even occur to me in the beginning. If I never practice, I never learn. Skill is like that.

The Production Solutions for AutoCAD Civil 3D includes built in sandboxes for you to play in. Now I’m sure you can imagine why we do that?

“Dave? Does our Civil 3D templates and Civil 3D styles solution do that? What the heck did we pay for?”

“A few hundred stock styles and a canned Style editing course, Boss.”

Adults Must Learn How to Learn Better

You might try and move around the “Better” in this sentence.
That’s a form of placeholder replacement fundamental to both the intersections of human meaning and the principals of modern iterative design.