NCHRP Synthesis 20-05/51-01 Practices for Construction Ready Digital Terrain Models

Grants and Contracts Details


The highway construction industry’s use of digital terrain models (DTMs) has dramatically improved production and efficiency. Highway designers and consultants, however, have confronted obstacles in their efforts to use DTMs effectively. Specifically, the rapid proliferation of and advances in DTM technology have made it difficult to consistently prepare construction-ready DTMs for inspectors and contractors. That is, while designers incorporate the necessary level of detail into their DTMs to complete a design, when DTM files are handed over to inspectors or contractors, they require significant adjustments or reformatting to render them usable, or they are scrapped entirely. Editing and reformatting DTMs is time-consuming and hinders project execution. State departments of transportation (DOTs) vary in their documented guidance on the development and handover of DTMs to construction. Various approaches exist for file management protocols, survey practices, and plan production methods. Some states push the control of the model to design consultants and have them work with the contractors for transition to construction. Some states also document their degree of liability in regard to the accuracy and use of the DTM in construction. Conversely, there are also states that provide no guidance regarding the use of DTMs in construction. The objective of this synthesis is to document current strategies and identify existing barriers to effective use of DTMs during and in transition to the construction phase of highway projects. Information will be gathered through literature review, a survey of DOTs, and interviews with selected agencies for the development of case examples. Knowledge gaps and suggestions for research to address those gaps will be identified.
Effective start/end date11/12/195/12/21


  • National Academy of Sciences: $45,000.00


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.