Using 2D or 3D sections to plan and visualize road, street and roadway projects is a popular and effective way of designing and communicating these transportation projects. While artists and visualization teams can make custom sections for any project using a variety of 3D modeling software like Sketchup, Lumion, Twinmotion and 3ds Max, a number of tools have been made to make the entire process considerably easier. Most of these involve dragging and dropping pre-made sections (lane, sidewalk, median…) and assembling the street and most of these are 2D and available online.
These are the top options currently available, including our own Beyond Typicals.
Beyond Typicals was originally a planned feature for Beyond CAD and the name denotes the oft-called ‘typical sections’ used to design and communicate roads. While Beyond Typicals has plans starting at $49/month, you can try this software for free, without limitation, for 30 days to make sure it works for you.
Beyond Typicals differs from other offerings in the fact that it is 3D and photorealistic by default as well as fully animated with people walking, cars driving and cyclists pedaling. Beyond Typicals offers robust features and almost complete control and customization from textures, to assets to lane widths and height (including retaining walls. Section and centerline locking are advanced features that simulate real-world design. Pro features like Phasing, Layout, Bridge and Scene Effects make Beyond Typicals a full-fledged urban design and planning tool.
Beyond Typicals is also the only section creator that allows for fully animated 3D video renders to be generated quickly as .mp4 files for use in Powerpoints, YouTube videos, news media, websites and more.
Beyond Typicals 2 (coming Nov 1st, 2022) will bring even more features and improvements including 3D file importing, asset organization, full texture control and realistic materials and pedestrians.
Streetmix is perhaps the most popular road section creator available. The easy-to-use interface and drag and drop sections make quick design and creation possible.
While advanced features aren’t available, most street projects can be quickly built and communicated for outreach and coordination.
It has been pointed out that Streetmix has a security flaw as anyone can view any previously created section by typing in the number in the URL. There is no protection of a road design from someone that knows (or can guess) the project number.
Positioned as a more robust Streetmix and built as a public-private partnership, Streetplan.net builds upon the simplicity of Streemix with more section and asset options and customization. While the graphics aren’t quite as aesthetically pleasing as other alternatives, Streetplan.net is a useful and free option with a lot of customization.
Remix Street Map Making Software
Remix is a suite of paid connected software used for multi-modal and transportation design and planning, including street map making software that is similar in function to other drag and drop section creators.
Remix offers a clean and aesthetic interface and a host of features that makes 2D street creation accessible.
*Note: I did not use Remix and only reviewed the website