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SH35 Swan Bridge Photosimulations

MDT, Bigfork, Montana

The Montana Department of Transportation conducted an Environmental Assessment (EA) for a segment of State Highway 35 through Bigfork Montana. The highway is one of the well traveled scenic corridors serving tourist destinations around Montana's Flathead Lake area and Glacier National Park. The EA would address future capacity and safety concerns as well as specific congestion issues.

Several visual simulations were required to illustrate potential project impacts and provide an easy to understand method of conveying the design to the non-technical public. POITRA Visual was selected to provide design visualization in support of the EA process.

Simplified 3D model pre-cast concrete I-girder structure based upon preliminary concepts.

Photo-realistic photo simulation and design visualization services by POITRA Visual


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Mouse-over images above to toggle between the existing photo and the photosimulations.

One important subject for visualization was the bridge spanning the Swan River between Flathead Lake and Bigfork Bay. The existing bridge was narrow and would need to be widened or replaced to fullfill the purpose and goals of the EA.

Several design options existed for the structure. All the concepts needed to be illustarted in a way that they could be easily compared for aesthetic evaluation. Photo-simulation was the medium chosen as the best way to communicate design concepts to the public and the Engineer conducted a photo survey to collect base photographs. The Swan Bridge concepts were all illustrated using the same view.

The past bridge and highway design experience of the POITRA Visual principals made it possible to illustrate a very accurate structure from very conceptual level plans.

POITRA modelers created draft modesl of each bridge design and camera matched them to the base photograph. The models were lighted, rendered and composited with the base photograph to create the simulations. Additional work was accomplished using traditional digital image editing techniques. The slant leg steel structure required the removal of the existing center pier.

The final photosimulation images were used to present the design to the public and in the EA document. end of article

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