Case Study:Regional Connector Transit Corridor Reduces Congestion in Downtown Los Angeles(Bentley Systems)



3D Modeling Software Consolidates Station Footprints to Cut Construction Costs

Cindy Ross
Manager, Product Marketing
Geotechnical Analysis
Canadian Cindy Ross, a recent addition to the Bentley Systems team, has lived or worked in every province and territory across naturally beautiful Canada. Cindy leads marketing and brand positioning for Geotechnical Analysis including: gINT, Plaxis, SoilVision and newly acquired Keynetix. A passion for branding, Cindy has shaped leading national brands from inside AirNova, AirCanada, the Royal Bank of Canada and worked with clients such as Coke, Tetley, and McCain Foods. A graduate of Dalhousie University with honors BCOMM and JIBS International studies, her recent work for SoilVision Systems Ltd. has given her mountain biking socks – “I Love Dirt” – a whole new meaning.

Large-scale Railway Line Project to Ease Transportation Issues

Southern California is home to 24 million people, making it the ninth largest economy in the world. Transportation in this region of the state is predominately vehicular, with 20 million vehicles on the roadways and 100,000 miles of roads and freeways. To alleviate congestion on the road network, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACMTA) embarked on a massive transit plan in the early 1980s. Since the inception of the plan, numerous transit corridors have been constructed. The Regional Connector Transit Corridor (RCTC) is the most recent section of the transit system to be built.

The RCTC is a continuation of the Long Beach – Los Angeles Blue Line Transit System from the 7th and Flower Street Metro Red and Blue Line intermodal station to Union Station in a heavily congested section of Los Angeles. This new transit line, estimated to cost USD 1.7 billion, connects west and south Los Angeles to north and east Los Angeles, and it is expected to be completed in 2022.

The transit line spans several neighborhoods, each with its own character. These stations are located within Bunker Hill, the Historic District, and Little Tokyo. Anil Verma Associates, Inc. (AVA), the architect of record on the project, was challenged to design all three underground stations and to ensure that they fit within the urban infrastructure of the surrounding communities.

An architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) firm, AVA was responsible for the station and plaza designs under Hatch Mott MacDonald within the RCC joint venture team, which included a multitude of designers, consultants, and subcontractors. AVA also needed to provide real-time updates to its client, LACMTA, as well as to the city and county of Los Angeles. Interfacing with 200 stakeholders, 53 constructors, 96 design team contracts, and many external coordinators presented a massive undertaking.

Underground Stations Require Multifaceted Design

An underground transit station is a major structure that spans at least three city blocks, equivalent to a 600- to 1,000-foot tall building being constructed horizontally. To further complicate construction, underground stations consist of complex mazes of equipment rooms that contain hefty equipment and heavy machinery to operate the high-speed trains. Additionally, the corridor requires space so maintenance workers have access to repair the infrastructure or replace the assets when they reach the end of their life.

Since these underground stations are located in a busy section of the city, AVA needed to secure the ideal location to ensure that construction caused minimal disruption to the city. Furthermore, AVA strove to pinpoint locations for the stations’ evacuation tubes, which are ventilation pipes that run from the platform up to ground level to provide ventilation. Identifying locales for these tubes was critical because they needed to be placed in an area on the congested ground level that had space for an opening.

BIM Software Generates iModels to Enhance Visualization

AVA implemented a connected data environment based on ProjectWise to collaborate with all relevant stakeholders, most of whom were already trained and licensed to work with the application. ProjectWise allowed easy access to project data to detect clashes, improve visualization, and ensure code compliance. The software’s interoperability with other applications made it an essential component of this project, ensuring collaboration among the dispersed project team.

Bentley’s 3D modeling software enabled AVA to conceive, design, iterate, and construct this infrastructure digitally. Digital simulation offered instantaneous visualization of all the facilities and the adjacent communities during planning and design of the railway project.

Building information modeling (BIM) and third-party software were used to develop 3D computer models. MicroStation was used to read the .dgn files created by the railway designers as well as the .dwg files created by the building subconsultants. Most of the rail design was conducted in MicroStation. The building design was simulated via third-party software mandated by the client, but could be shared using ProjectWise. AVA viewed composite 3D models through iModels, which were created from files generated by MicroStation and OpenBuildings Designer. Clash detection and visualization were then conducted from the composite model. The 3D modeling applications enhanced the visualization of the project and allowed the design team to achieve cost-effective design concepts and a higher level of quality control.

Consolidated Station Designs Save Space and Materials

During the bidding stage, AVA completely changed the design concepts that were originally developed by the client for all three railway stations. They condensed the overall size of the stations and consolidated the functional space to achieve area efficiencies in their redesign. As a result, more optimized design concepts were developed, substantially reducing costs due to more efficient station footprints. The footprints were diminished by 25% to 31% for all three stations. Consequently, the consolidated redesign led to a potential construction cost savings between USD 3 million and 15 million per station. These efficiencies also led to enumerable environmental savings, including reductions in pollution, transport and storage of construction materials, traffic disruption, and excavation material.

MicroStation and BIM software kept the project on schedule and within budget. The 3D modeling software enabled continual review of design modifications via renderings, and acceptance of alterations in real time helped AVA keep the project on schedule. Moreover, the team stored 200,000 documents, 17,000 folders, and a file size of 1.5 terabytes on ProjectWise, all of which were accessible to stakeholders at all times. This ready accessibility of information enhanced collaboration, saving time. AVA estimates it saved USD 5 million as a result of using Bentley software.

The RCTC project is significant for the rail transit network of Los Angeles. It will decrease the number of vehicles on the roads, reducing environmentally damaging emissions as well as transportation costs. The transit system will provide greater access to downtown Los Angeles, while making it more attractive to live there.

Project Summary

Organization -  Anil Verma Associates, Inc.

Solution - Buildings and Campuses

Location- Los Angeles, California, United States

Files generated by MicroStation and OpenBuildings Designer were used to form composite 3D models with iModels, which enhanced project visualization.

Project Objectives

  • To design all three underground stations and to ensure that they fit within the urban infrastructure of the surrounding communities.
  • To make congested downtown Los Angeles more accessible via public transportation, making it a more desirable place to live.

Fast Facts

  • AVA conceived, designed, iterated, and constructed the station infrastructure digitally with Bentley’s 3D modeling software.
  • ProjectWise allowed AVA to collaborate with all relevant stakeholders, most of whom were already trained and licensed to work with the application.


  • Bentley’s 3D modeling software enabled continual review of design modifications, and real-time acceptance of all changes, which kept the project on schedule and within budget.
  • Using Bentley software saved AVA USD 5 million in design costs.
  • Smaller station footprints are estimated to save between USD 3 million and 15 million per station in construction costs.

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