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Santa Clara/Alum Rock at 28th St Station Photosimulations

VTA, Santa Clara County, California.

The design study for the Valley Transit Authority (VTA) Santa Clara/Alum Rock BRT/LRT Environmental Assessment (EA) compared Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) and Light Rail Transit (LRT) services to downtown. The study conducted to develop a preferred alternative from these among these options.

POITRA was selected to create a series of images comparing the alternatives in the context of the actual route running in a combination of dedicated median and curbside configurations for both BRT and LRT alternatives and illustrating numerous neighborhood stations.

VTA Engineers also desired to illustrate the disproportionate impacts associated with construction of each option. Implementation of a BRT line has a shorter construction schedule and less physical impact along much of the mainline.

Photo-simulations proved to be the best medium for accurate evaluation and for confident presentation to public stakeholders.

POITRA used its custom Kinkisharyo LRT model vehicle and created a new custom model of a Bus Rapid Transit vehicle. VTA color and marking schemes were applied to both.

POITRA often creates custom transit vehicles at no cost to the project.

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


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A location at 28th Street was representative of a full size station on a side running segment of the line. POITRA modified the engineer provided photograph by removing existing street lights, signs and an abandoned heavy freight rail line to use as the simulation base photograph.

A fictional BRT vehicle was created by POITRA modelers per the direction of VTA Project Manager. A detailed technical model of VTA's preferred Kinkisharyo LRT vehicle had already been created directly from manufacturers specification sheets. VTA colors and markings were applied as they are on existing vehicles in the VTA fleet.

POITRA then created a 3D model that included LRT rails, concrete track bed, LRT catenary system, station platform, canopies, benches, railings and the POITRA model VTA LRT vehicle. The models were camera matched, lighted, rendered and composited with the photograph to produce the LRT station simulation. The BRT simulation required similar elements and the POITRA model VTA BRT vehicle using the same base photograph..

The construction phase simulations presented more of a challenge. POITRA called upon all of its principal's previous career experience in roadway design and construction inspection to accurately portray the construction phase of both options at this location.

The base photograph was revised to include contractor and VTA construction personnel, trucks, and open excavations for the station foundations and removal of the storm drain. The model was revised to include traffic barrels, concrete barriers and cones. Each had variations appropriate to each of the options characteristics such as the open trench that continues beyond the station for the LRT version. The model was rendered and composited with the construction base photograph for the finished construction visualization.

The simulations were used in meetings between VTA and the city, the public and other stakeholders. The simulations also appear in the public EA document.end of article

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