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Interactive GIS Map Gives Transit Clients the Complete View

Aug 16, 2022
Houston Metro over map

As the General Engineering Consultant (GEC) working on behalf of the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County (METRO) in Houston, STV is currently supporting the continuation and improvement of METRO’s operations that stand to be impacted by North Houston Highway Improvement Project (NHHIP), a transformative program led by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) that will reimagine the I-45 corridor in downtown and northern Houston.

With some 80% of METRO’s bus, rail and HOV users expected to be affected by this decade-long program, STV is looking to leverage every tool in its toolbox – including the creation of a unique and dynamic interactive web map that is being powered by the firm’s enhanced Geographic Information Systems (GIS) expertise – to better communicate and monitor potential impacts from construction, while helping METRO execute its METRONext program and meet its holistic goals of transit system improvement and expansion.

“Using GIS technology to develop a map like this gives us a stronger way to communicate and helps bring a greater sense of reality and immediacy to our clients and other project stakeholders,” said Ron Deverman, CEP, STV’s national director for environmental planning in its transportation and infrastructure group. “This is a big improvement over a static, layered map that was traditionally used in the past. And it’s especially useful when used to inform a massive, multimodal project like NHHIP. Our growing GIS expertise positions us well to provide this resource to our rail and transit clients across the country.”

During NHHIP, there are several aerial segments of I-45 that are slated to be reconstructed below-grade. As NHHIP continues to gain momentum, STV’s use of GIS services will provide METRO with a clearer, constantly evolving picture of how several modes of transit will interact with TxDOT construction and other stakeholders within the project area.

STV’s experience in GIS technology was augmented after its acquisition of CP&Y late last year. As part of its full suite of engineering, architectural and field services, CP&Y an STV Company, has a long-standing dedicated team providing GIS services as part of its transportation practice. Given the GIS team’s familiarity with TxDOT, it was a natural fit to incorporate this expertise as part of STV’s larger GEC contract with METRO.

Houston Metro

“We’ve prepared several interactive, web-based maps using GIS tools for TxDOT projects in the past,” said Jason Wilder, GISP, lead GIS analyst in Austin. “We wanted to use that past experience to develop a tool for METRO that would provide all the information they needed right at their fingertips.”

Within one interactive map, the client and project team now have instant access to all relevant data related to METRO facilities within the project area. The client can visually assess which rail stations, bus stops and service lines will be impacted by the NHHIP project, while also viewing associated data that isn’t a line or a dot on the map. There’s even an option to transition the application to Google Map “street view” to get an on-the-ground look of the project area.

In addition to the design and construction information, the project team regularly integrates data from other agencies and community stakeholders to focus in on important aspects of public transit such as equitable access to transportation facilities, safety and service quality, and other community-related priorities.

“We designed the application to adapt quickly to new information giving our client the best, holistic view of their transit system and the communities they serve,” Wilder said. “With this, the client has enhanced data visibility to achieve deeper insights leading to quicker and well-informed planning decisions.”