Top Civil Engineering Company Reveres SIDRA INTERSECTION Software as Unmatched Standard
On the day Akcelik and Associates sat down to interview Tobie Ueckermann, a news story broke revealing the results of the IBM 2010 Commuter Pain Study. This global index ranked South Africa’s economic center, the city of Johannesburg as the third worst city in the world for the daily work commute (out of the twenty major world cities surveyed). Tobie knows this first hand as a Technical Leader for Traffic Engineering Services for ARCUS GIBB and as a commuter. Arcus Gibb has a staff of over 550 and annual revenue of R550 million (or US$75 million). It is looking to double its size in five years to meet the demands of sustainable growth and socio-economic upliftment of the African continent. They are a full multi-disciplinary engineering and science consulting company with a reputation of changing the face of infrastructure in Africa, project by project.
You name the challenge and Tobie and his team has faced it: private and public projects, T and 4-way junctions, diamond interchanges, and highways. His team has vast experience in the development of transport plans at national, provincial, district, and local authority levels. They have many streets controlled by stop signs, and in Johannesburg alone, there are over 1400 signal controlled intersections. Tobie’s team has assessed some 100 of those for new bus rapid transit lanes in and around the city. Complications mount when their engineers need to factor in growing modes of transportation sharing road space including high numbers of pedestrians, buses, trucks, private vehicles, bus rapid transit, and taxis.
Tobie first used SIDRA software as an undergraduate student at university in the single traffic engineering class that was part of his curriculum at the time. Since then, his fifteen years experience as an engineering veteran has shown him that SIDRA INTERSECTION is the industry standard throughout South Africa. He has even led training seminars on SIDRA INTERSECTION from time to time. Tobie states, “There are many senior engineers who grew their careers with SIDRA INTERSECTION software. Their knowledge of the software goes back to its early days in DOS and the years of its ongoing development and sophistication. Therefore, they have complete confidence in the excellence of the tool to choose to mentor the next generation on SIDRA INTERSECTION considering many newcomers in the field.”
The Johannesburg Road Agency and other transport authorities in South Africa universally recognize the reliability of SIDRA INTERSECTION. GIBB submits assessments to these regulating agencies so it makes Tobie’s life easier that these agencies know how the software parameters and settings work. GIBB uses the American Highway Capacity Manual methodology and formulas which SIDRA INTERSECTION supports for calculating parameters and rendering simulations. Tobie says research studies have been done locally to test these parameters and it has all been confirmed or calibrated for local conditions. Although reviews are still conducted like this, the software is generally accepted as a benchmark.
Helpful Insights for Potential New Users
Tobie explains that it would be important for potential new users to know that, “SIDRA INTERSECTION is simple to use, and it has an easy interface based on the Windows platform. It is extremely flexible and gives you the control to input exactly the parameters you want. The software is very detailed in terms of your lanes, your approaches, and your movements. The input, what is being tested, and the output are all very intuitive.”
He went on to explain that it’s great for macroscopic type modeling of isolated intersections, and also for testing alternatives for intersection upgrading for example comparing a diamond interchange vs. a single point interchange. A lot of features in the software make these types of comparison easier. Tobie says it plainly, “It’s easy to test different options in the software and in minutes you can have your answer.” Another great feature is the ability to print quality outputs which you can include in your report. He wants to emphasize to others how all of this increases one’s productivity.
He specifically mentions that the emissions output feature is a measure that is increasingly being used to test the design’s effectiveness in terms of the environment and to provide emissions data and evaluation inputs for an environmental impact assessment. You can test a timing scenario resulting in different delays to create optimum conditions for less fuel usage and less emissions. The output is very detailed. You can test a lot of different parameters that are applicable to your specific situation which differ from country to country. You can use SIDRA INTERSECTION in any country because it supports so many different standards.
Tobie shows the wisdom gained by his experience by noting that as user-friendly as SIDRA INTERSECTION is, users should have some qualification in traffic or transportation engineering and/or traffic flow theory and signal control. As with any productivity software, human intelligence and understanding of overall objectives and nuances of design and external factors should not be underestimated. He rightfully reminds us all, “This work is about protecting the public.”
Outlook for a Busy Future
Arcus GIBB’s traffic and transportation team consists of over 30 people and they handle in excess of 100 traffic projects per year.
One recent project includes the Johannesburg Inner City Traffic and Transportation Study, a complete in-depth review with critical outcomes in mind including promotion of economic growth, regeneration of decaying areas, improved safety, more public transport and sustainability. Another project is breaking ground south of Johannesburg in the Midvaal area. Savanna City is an integrated housing project consisting of almost 20,000 residential units to house 80,000 to 100,000 people over the next ten years. This is a private developer project with some funding from the Provincial Housing Department since it integrates subsidized low income housing with unsubsidized housing. Another major project is The Grace, a part of the larger Gauteng Highlands project, which constitutes a range of complementary developments including a new facility for the local movie industry, a private hospital and a commercial and shopping complex and two schools.
Tobie will oversee services provided by GIBB including public transport demand estimation, roadway and access planning, traffic engineering, transport planning, traffic modeling, access planning, and public participation. SIDRA INTERSECTION will be their go-to tool and they are looking forward to taking advantage of any new features and technological developments of the SIDRA INTERSECTION brand, such improvements which they have pleasantly become accustomed to from the developers at Akcelik and Associates.
*Windows is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corporation in South Africa and other countries.
Interviewee: Tobie M. Ueckermann, Technical Leader, Traffic Engineering Services
Company: ARCUS GIBB (Pty) Ltd
Address:Head Office: Eglin Road, Sunninghill, 2191, Johannesburg, South Africa
Specialties: Infrastructure planning and delivery