Google Earth Offers New View of
March 20, 2013
Garrison Wells, The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.)
Residents of the Pikes Peak area in Colorado who want an early glimpse of major transportation projects in the county
can get a 3D look with a couple of clicks.
The Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments gave a demonstration Tuesday on how to use Google Earth to visually
explain the often complicated design of transportation projects such as interchanges, lane expansions and other road
There’s a batch of them going on in El Paso County, from the widening of Interstate 25 from Woodmen Road to
Monument to a proposal for a new interchange at Highway 24 and I-25 that appears to be close to getting state funds.
What the council’s imbedded Google Earth does on its home page is allow residents to see projects as well as the
factors that influenced decisions on the project.
“We’re a visual species,” said Craig Casper, the council’s transportation director who paved the way for the project. “If
we show it visually, it’s 1,000 times more understandable.”
It has the feel of a computer game with live, moving parts. With the flyover, people start with a bird’s eye view, then
swoop down to get a closer view of the project.
The site also includes a look at the region in general, from socioeconomic characteristics to traffic congestion hotspots
For instance, check the low-income box and a 3D map of low-income areas pops up. People can also see floodplains
and even homes where residents live who do not own cars.
Viewers “get to see what we saw before we made decisions,” Casper said.
“What this does is it goes into the living room,” he said. “People can see what they want, how they want, as long as
they want. It’s transparent. It’s interactive.”
Benjamin Lollar, north program engineer with the Colorado Department of Transportation, called the site a great tool
for communicating with the public.
“The transparency is important,” he said.
Another fan is Woodland Park Mayor David Turley, who noted the site will help dispel rumors that can arise when
projects are created.
“It helps take away rumor-ville,” he said.
Casper added that the site could help save money, since the single biggest cost increase of transportation projects
comes from delays triggered by lack of public awareness.
The council’s Google Earth project took about two years to complete, Casper said. Total cost was about $18,000, most
of which was paid for by grants. College interns were used to develop the models.
The council, Casper said, is on the leading edge of such technology. In January, he presented the concept to the
Transportation Research Board in Washington, D.C.
“We got very positive feedback that this is the future of communicating with the public,” he said.
Source: (c)2013 The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.) Distributed by MCT Information Services
By Garrison Wells Published: August 21, 2013
The Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments is starting its long-range regional transportation
begins: with the feet and other non-motorized types of transportation. Last week, an employee
from London-based transportation consultant Steer Davies Gleave pedaled many of the area’s
main commuter bike paths videotaping the ride. In addition to the video, data was collected on
pavement roughness, safety and areas where the bike paths are not connected and other factors
that could affect the ride. He also spent two days gathering data in Woodland Park.
Such high tech methods of gathering transportation data are rapidly becoming routine at PPACG.
This is the first time that technology, which includes a graph like a seismograph that shows the
pavement roughness real time during the ride, has been used in the United States by Steer
Davies. The technology has already been used throughout Europe and in other countries.
With the video and online interactive tools, PPACG and Steer Davies are pushing to get as much
community input as possible for the transportation plan, starting with pedestrian travel. That’s
because the process has been shortened. Normally the agency has four years between regional
plans. This year it was accelerated by the Colorado Department of Transportation and PPACG
has only two years to complete its plan. “Because it’s a telescoped process, it’s even more
incumbent on us to reach out,” said Dallas Jamison, spokeswoman for PPACG.
An example of another high tech tool is an app that will allow bicycle commuters who run into a
problem while riding to snap a photo with their cell phones and send it directly to the agency
The Steer Davies video will also be posted online for residents to view on the PPACG’s Web
“We’re a visual species,” said Craig Casper, PPACG transportation director. “We’re being high
tech so it’s simple for residents.”
Riding and walking are a key part of the regional transportation plan, which, when completed,
will list between $1.5 billion and $2 billion worth of projects.
Those two most basic methods of travel can cut congestion and improve residents’ health, Casper
“Both of them are very important,” he said. “All trips have some sort of walking pretty much at
the end. Even if you drive to Walmart or downtown, walking is a part of that.”
About 20 percent of local trips are a half mile or less, Casper said, which makes them walkable
or ridable by bicycle.
Seven percent of area households have no vehicles.
“A lot of people have their bikes in the garage,” Casper said. “How do we make it more
comfortable for them to come out and ride?”
While Colorado Springs has a “pretty good system,” said Brian Vituli, senior transportation
planner with PPACG, there are still shortcomings – such as areas where vehicle traffic is high or
where the bike path is too narrow, he said.
In some areas, signage could also be improved.
“We will be able to gauge how important some of these items are,” Vituli said.
The video will help. So will the PPACG’s campaign to gather input.
That will include several presentations to the public and events in the next couple of months to
showcase the plan and some of the tools to get the word out, Jamison said.
Read more at http://gazette.com/transportation-includes-shoe-leathertoo/
Dan Piatkowski poses
Wednesday, August 21, 2013,
with the bike used to collect
data and video on bike and
pedestrian trails and lanes
around the region. In the
foreground is a display of the
video and information such as
GPS location and roughness of
the trail that is collected by the
camera mounted on the bike.
The video displayed on the
screen is from the Pikes Peak
Greenway just south of
Woodmen Road. Photo by
Mark Reis, The Gazette