Planning new roads with Google Earth

If you watched the second episode of the Geospatial Revolution that we posted a few months ago, you may remember how the city of Portland was making excellent use of mapping technologies such as Google Earth to help with city planning.
I’m reminded of that story when looking at what the city of Douglasville, Georgia is doing as they prepare to undertake a massive highway widening and reconstruction project. The Highway 92 Project uses similar tools as other projects, with a variety of charts, PDFs and Word documents. However, they also are using Google Earth so people can get a very close look at how the proposed changes would impact their lives.

hwy92.jpg

As you can see from the image above and the video below, this project will make some massive changes to the layout of the road:

During recent meetings, the video was shown for the audience to view, and the presenters had the KMZ file loaded so they could walk through any questions that viewers might have.
Croy Engineering created the file for the City of Douglasville for use in the public information portion of the project concept phase. Greg Teague, Director of Engineering Services and Wayne McGary were the driving force behind the creation of the kmz file and movie.
For a project like this, Google Earth seems to be the perfect way to show it off. Novice users can watch the fly-through video, while more advanced users can use the KMZ to dig in deep.
The only thing that would make this better is the addition of 3D buildings and trees to help get a better feel for the affected area, but that will come over time as Google continues to expand those into more areas of the world.

About Mickey Mellen

Mickey has been using Google Earth since it was released in 2005, and has created a variety of geo-related sites including Google Earth Hacks. He runs a web design firm in Marietta, GA, where he lives with his wife and two kids.



Comments

  1. Does the Earth really need any more six lane highways slicing through communities and forests in the US or anywhere else? I can think of better uses for Google Earth.

  2. @Chris — I think you’re mixing up two separate points.
    1 — You can certainly argue that the earth doesn’t need more highways like this.
    2 — However, if such highways are going to be built, the use of Google Earth to present the plans seems like a good way to do it.

  3. @Mickey OK, GE is only the messenger, and it makes an all too telling presentation of the impact of such highways which is not in itself a bad thing.
    ‘Better’ uses might involve recognising and responding to the depletion of natural resources, impact of population pressures, and the like, on the consistent global basis provided by GE. I think GEB has featured examples.

  4. @Chris — I see your point now, and I think a case could certainly be made that those kinds of uses would be “better” than this one. We’ll certainly continue to highlight those uses as they come to our attention.

  5. Re: the Earth needing any more six lane highways…
    With the costs involved, state governments and local municipalities rarely undertake projects like this without showing a demonstrable need. It could be argued that realignments such as this improve traffic flow, therefore reducing congestion emissions and other negative impacts to the environment. As servants of the public interest, planners and traffic engineers are notoriously diligent about awareness of environmental impacts, or whatever other popular cause may be in vogue at the time.

  6. @redhat re traffic engineers being “notoriously diligent about awareness of environmental impacts …”
    If that is the case, the video clip on this post is a very poor example of such diligence as it shows highways cutting wide swathes through forest and running close to existing residences, no doubt to bring noise and pollution, clearly ignoring the “vogue” for care over environmental impact. You can see it for real on GE in so many parts of the US, a country unable to break its love affair with the auto.

  7. Chris,
    I do believe redhat raises some good points that can not be known to those of us looking at this video clip. There could be numerous good reason why this highway is being proposed. It is very possible that this new highway reduces the carbon footprint by more efficient drive times, or it is has less impact than some other options. There are no laws against people driving (at least not yet); so planners and engineers provide the most efficient and economical solutiions that avoid, minimize and mitigate any impacts to the environment.
    I see so much opposition to building new roads; but when the converstation is about restoring a specific road to it’s original condition; the people that use that road do not support doing so.
    Interesting times we live in, sometimes I think we save a tree at the expense of millions of barrels of oil….

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