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How Arcadis Delivered a Large-Scale Toll Road Update Under Budget

Arcadis, a global design, engineering, and consultancy firm, has built its reputation on providing high-quality, sustainable assets to improve the quality of life in rapidly growing cities worldwide.

In 2022, the company took on a high-stakes project to modernize 20 toll plazas for the Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission (OTIC) and piloted Autodesk Build, part of Autodesk Construction Cloud.

With a platform to centralize communication and collaboration, Arcadis delivered the project under budget and reduced its carbon footprint by 50 tons.

Replacing Outdated Infrastructure on an Active Corridor

The Ohio Turnpike is a major transportation corridor connecting Ohio to the supply chain superhighway between Chicago and New York. The existing toll collection system installed in 2009 was approaching “end of life,” with original parts and replacements becoming harder to find. Modernizing the toll roads would improve the experience of more than 49 million motorists traveling the 241-mile road every year.

Arcadis was commissioned to oversee the $15 million modernization of the 20 toll booth plazas across the state. As the project’s construction manager, Arcadis oversaw contractors, scheduling, budget, and all other logistical details, focusing on safety and coordination with the third-party toll collection system integrator. 

“When performing work in Ohio, the first risk consideration is construction down time delays due to weather and heavy traffic seasons,” says Ann Blanchard, Sr. Project Manager at Arcadis.

“There’s rain, there’s snow, there’s vacationers going to Cedar Point Amusement Park.”

Since mobile work crews from four different contractors were working on the turnpike project, Arcadis needed a solution with real-time data analysis to proactively and immediately respond to ever-changing conditions. With project partners spread out across Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Arizona, Autodesk Construction Cloud helped teams communicate better and respond within hours, instead of days or weeks.

Testing Global Standards across the Project

In 2021, Arcadis had upgraded its BIM 360 instance to Autodesk Construction Cloud to consolidate data management systems and adopt one global design, engineering, and construction platform. Their goal was to standardize folders, templates, and workflows so data would be more consistent and accurate. With better data quality, Arcadis would be empowered to provide impactful analytics necessary to mitigate project risk from a single source of truth.

Before rolling out the platform company-wide, Arcadis piloted Autodesk Build and its cost management features on the OTIC project. Using Build would help teams improve project management workflows and mitigate risk with access to real-time information. Based on feedback from the team, Arcadis would refine the folder structure, module usage and automation customization to enhancing productivity.

“When presenting the use of new technology to an owner and mandating contractors to become digitally savvy, there's always reluctance,” says Ann. “The lack of calls our technical support teams received as we rolled out Build let us know we made the right decision.”

Connecting Teams 1,800 Miles Apart

With significant complexity, a tight timeline, and 75 Arcadis and external workers on the project, Arcadis needed to move teams from delayed email communications to real-time collaboration in Autodesk Build.

“Decisions on a project of this size can be the difference between someone making it home at the end of the day or costing the owner millions of dollars,” says Ann. “Build helped me prioritize my day, addressing issues assigned to me before they negatively impacted the field.”

Ann could view issues from the My Home screen in Build, with issues highlighted red, green, or yellow for their level of potential impact (with red being the highest). Within five minutes of logging on to her computer, Ann could resolve issues quickly without “open[ing] the door to mistakes if I accidentally missed an important email.”

On one occasion, a concrete pour scheduled during the holiday traffic season was at risk of being cancelled due to inclement weather. Because concrete can’t be poured below a specific temperature without an engineer-approved weatherization plan, Ann needed to connect with the owner and engineer to get the required approvals—and fast.

Since the issue was flagged on Ann’s home screen, she liaised with the owner and engineer immediately and obtained the required approvals to proceed with the concrete pour. This also helped Arcadis comply with the contract language of completing work on each respective toll lane within seven days to maintain the flow of traffic.

“Without Build, this concrete issue would not have been found in time, leading to the team being behind schedule and over budget,” says Ann.

As the only project manager on OTIC, Build helped Ann address issues early without having to sort through countless emails keeping the project on track.

Using Data to Manage the Project Timeline

Project managers are responsible for many aspects of a project, from schedule to budget to onsite safety. Build allowed Ann to see project information remotely, from photos to submittals to RFIs, from her home office in Arizona, affording her the opportunity to make real-time decisions with all relevant data at her fingertips.

“With Build, I never had to step foot in Ohio to know what was happening on the project,” says Ann. “Build helped us work in real time, leveraging the right people at the right time with the right information, making an impossible situation achievable.”

With a project of this size and only seven days to upgrade each toll lane, there was a high risk for negative schedule or cost impacts. The team needed visibility into approved submittals, RFIs and drawing changes instantly to keep the project on schedule.

Arcadis project teams compiled a submittal list of activities that had to be submitted within the first 30 days of the project to mitigate supply chain impacts, and made sure downstream teams were ready to review them.

“With Build, we coordinated with the architects and engineers to prioritize the review and approval of those items within seven days,” says Ann. “If we saw a potential schedule impact from a submittal still within the review process, we had opportunity to put a pivot plan in place to stay on schedule.”

But Ann wanted to avoid any adverse impact—after all, if a lane was shut down and teams needed to pivot, they might need to go another 20 miles down the road to continue working. Within Build, the owner, Arcadis, contractors, and the architect/engineer could find all the necessary data linked to an RFI, reducing the time to understand the review contract impacts and provide a final decision.

“The value of Build became invaluable for collaboration when a contractor submitted an RFI from the field,” says Ann. “Thanks to having data in a central platform, RFIs were more time than not responded to within hours, not days or weeks.” 

Ann and the Arcadis team also leveraged the Sheets tool within Build to keep the project on track. With Sheets, project participants could quickly compare versions with a color overlay of all changed items, and order new materials within hours after a revision publication. This also helped reduce rework since teams always had the latest project information.

“Thanks to having data in a central platform, RFIs were more time than not responded to within hours, not days or weeks.” 

Ann Blanchard
Sr. Project Manager, Arcadis

The team also utilized the Meetings Tool in Build to manage meetings effectively. By assigning RFIs, submittals, and issues to attendees, actions are visible to relevant stakeholders and handled in real time.

“If the project team had relied on old methods of distributing a Word document post-meeting, action items would have been missed, or worse, not resolved,” says Ann.

Managing Project Costs and Turning Around Pay Applications Faster

On the OTIC project, there were over 3,000 daily inspection reports that needed to be reviewed before payments could be processed for the contractors. Before Build, Ann estimates it would take the accounting department four to five hours to review a pay application.

By creating an automation between the Forms and Cost Management modules of Build, Arcadis helped OTIC implement productivity enhancements to the pay application workflow, resulting in a 65% turnaround time improvement from up to three months to just three weeks.

With this customized approval process, field inspectors can now track quantities installed directly in the report, attach photos, and link documents, giving approvers all the information they need to approve or return a payment application. This also allowed Arcadis to manage the project’s financial health in real time instead of the usual 30-day delay.

“We're moving fast, and we had to keep up with the budget,” says Ann. “When a report was approved, the project budget was automatically updated, providing real-time trending analytics for proactive decision making.”

Enhanced permission settings in the Cost Management module also ensured that sensitive information, like wages and subcontract values weren’t accessible to everyone across the project.

Keeping Teams Safe and Delivering Quality Projects

With Build, Arcadis reduced its carbon footprint by 50 tons; increased productivity by 25% due to less time in meetings; decreased risk by 75% by reducing manual, error-prone processes; and realized a $1.6 million credit for OTIC. And Arcadis delivered the project in 2023, not in 2024, as anticipated if they had relied on traditional methods.

“Not sending emails with large file attachments or having to travel to the jobsite allowed us to reduce that amount of carbon emissions,” says Ann. “With Build, I could respond proactively and in real-time to whatever was thrown at us without missing a beat.”

When rolling out new technology on this project, Arcadis looked to make the lives of the end user safer, less frustrating, and more productive. With their teams working on the side of the highway and semi-trucks passing within feet of the work zone, users may not always be looking up at incoming traffic.

Access to Build in the field reduced the hazard allowing quick access to standardized, organized data or the ability to ask questions. Result were no recordable safety incidents and everyone going home to their families.

“When working with variables outside your control, Arcadis always wants to ensure all individuals stay safe and vigilant,” says Ann. “With Build, we can keep project teams safe while delivering high-quality projects on budget and ahead of schedule, and that’s a win.”