Section 3 - Survey Files



Protecting the integrity of the survey information has always been a concern for CTDOT’s Survey personnel. Under no circumstances shall design personnel copy the survey files out of the survey folder into their folder in the effort to edit the survey data contained in the Survey field book/terrain design file. 

The accuracy of the Survey information is the responsibility of the surveyor and therefore the original survey information shall not be edited by design personnel. If changes need to be made to the survey files, these changes shall be coordinated with the originator of the survey data.



The three methods used for creating an existing terrain in a Survey design file are as follows:

  • Location Survey Data (only completed by the Survey Unit)
  • InRoads DTM Conversion (only completed by the Survey Unit)
  • LiDAR Data (can be created by survey or design)


» New Terrain processed with ORD fieldbook

When a new OpenRoads Location Survey is requested, the Survey Unit will use OpenRoads Designer (not InRoads SS2) to create a fieldbook and import field data. Survey information processed with the ORD Survey tools are written directly to the MicroStation design file. An existing ground terrain model is typically generated from the survey information without the use of the old InRoads SS2 DTM. Both the fieldbook and terrain model are embedded within the ORD design file.

This design file is located in the following folder within the CTDOT WorkSet folder structure:


Survey information is processed in a 3D design file, while designers will work in 2D files and will attach the 3D survey information as a reference attachment.


» Legacy Terrain processed with InRoads SS2 DTM

This process will be used if the designer uses OpenRoads and has an old DTM SS2 Survey. The designer will request that an existing terrain DGN file be created from Survey using the DTM SS2 file. Survey will use the ORD Create from File tool to convert the existing DTM to a Terrain. In this case the delivered survey information will be in two files: the ORD Terrain (from the DTM) and the V8i Ground File Topo.

Import Terrain Models - OpenRoads Dialog Box

Below are the basic steps Survey will use:

1. Create a new 3D Design Model to house the existing Terrain.

2. In the task menu select the OpenRoads Workflow > Terrain > from File.

3. Browse to the location of the DTM file to import.

4. The Import Terrain Model(s) dialog will appear, fill out the fields as shown.

  • Feature definition: Terrain/ Existing Ground.
  • Import Options: Import Terrain Only.
  • Click Import.

If an Import Failed error appears, continue with the following DTM procedure. 

InRoads DTM Settings for Export Dialog Boxes

  1. Open the DTM using an old version of InRoads.
  2. On the InRoads Explorer dialog box open the DTM.
  3. Right click on the DTM and select Properties.
  4. Toggle on Use Extended Data Checks and Lock Triangulation, click Apply and Close.
  5. Right click on the DTM and select Save.
  6. Right click on the DTM and select Properties.
  7. Toggle off Use Extended Data Checks and Lock Triangulation , click Apply and Close.
  8. Right click on the DTM and select Save.Right click on the DTM and select Close.
  9. Repeat Steps 3 & 4.Select Fit View tool and the terrain should appear in the file.
» LiDAR Terrain processed with ORD

LiDAR data can be imported into the design file as a terrain and used for supplemental information. The design files will not contain a field book since it is not necessary for the terrain. There are stipulations when using a LiDAR terrain:

  • Design is limited to planning uses only.
  • Only data imported by the Survey Unit can be used in the contract plans and deliverables.



References are used to display the contents of another DGN file within the current ORD and OBM models. The Home tab in each Workflow contains the reference tools as shown below. This is no different for existing data, terrains and survey topo will be referenced into design models.

Reference Attachment Tool Icon and Dialog Box - OpenRoads Screen Shot

Note the following options:

  • If you are using a “New Terrain processed with ORD fieldbook,” you need only reference the ORD Survey design file which contains both the fieldbook, generated terrain, and survey graphicsthe Ground File Topo.
  • If you are using a “Legacy Terrain processed with InRoads SS2 DTM,” you must reference two files.

–The ORD ORD design file, “Legacy Terrain processed with InRoads SS2 DTM” created by Surveys (DTM dragged to CONNECT DGN).

–The V8i Ground File Topo design file previously created using V8i..


1. Click Fit View in your MicroStation view window. Double-check that the survey ground file came in at the correct location-

2. Zoom to a coordinate grid cross and snap to it, the XY-axis in the MicroStation command window should display the same numbers as the northing and easting of the coordinate grid cross.

3. Check the the reference file(s) scale if something is incorrect. It should be 1:1. If not, select the reference file(s) and change True Scale to off and the scale to 1 to 1.

References - OpenRoads Dialog Box




Terrain models generated by OpenRoads Survey are stored in the design file as a Terrain Model element type. The terrain model can be accessed by design personnel by attaching the survey design file as a reference attachment.


The display of the terrain model is controlled by the feature definition that is assigned in the design file that contains the terrain element. In the example above, the terrain is displayed using the E_TERR_Ground feature definition.

The terrain display can be defined uniquely for the active file as follows:

The properties dialog appears as a pop-up dialog as shown below.

Terrain Properties Override Sym No - OpenRoads Dialog Box


Since the terrain model is contained in a reference attachment, all the fields are ghosted and cannot be edited.


The user may wish to override the assigned feature definition to turn on/off contours and triangles or change the contour interval settings. This is accomplished by setting the Override Symbology option to Yes to allow editing the terrain model properties. After setting the Override Symbology setting to Yes, the display of the terrain features can be toggled on/off using the options shown on the right for turning on/off contours, triangles, etc.

Terrain Properties Override Sym Yes - OpenRoads Dialog Box



  • Use the Element Selection tool to select the terrain model element.
  • Allow the cursor to rest over the terrain element. The menu shown below appears. Choose the Properties command.

After attaching the survey design file containing the terrain model element, it is normal practice to set this terrain model as the “Active Terrain”.  The active terrain model is used to define the existing ground for profiles and cross sections. 

To define the active terrain, choose Active > Set Active from the Terrain tab.  Select the terrain model when prompted. The command can also be selected from the pop-up menu when the terrain is selected using the Element Selection tool. 

When the terrain is activated, the software will automatically create a 3D model in the active design file. This 3D model is attached as a self-reference to the active file. 

Set as Active Terrain Model - OpenRoads Screen Shot



New Survey design files created with ORD include graphics and terrains as well as Survey Data such as Field Books. Field Books contain Data Files, Control Points, and Point and Linear Features:

Explorer Window Survey Type Data to be Displayed - OpenRoads Interface


When survey files are imported and processed, each field shot is stored as a Point Feature in a Field Book which is embedded in the design file. For example, the field code “DT” is included in the “e_TREEDC__Deciduous Tree” feature definition, and is used to designate a Deciduous Tree. When survey data is processed, the tree symbology is generated in the design file view using a CTDOT standard cell element as shown:

Survey Point Feature Definition - Screen Shot


When the survey file which includes the field book is attached as a reference, information for an individual point can be reviewed as follows: 

  • From the Home tab, choose the Element Selection command.
  • Float the cursor over a referenced survey point and allow the cursor to rest over the element.
  • A pop-up dialog will appear showing the survey information for the Point Feature.

Point Feature Listed Information - OpenRoads Screen Shot


A series of survey points representing curvilinear features can be connected as a Linear Feature. With the Element Selection tool active, float the cursor over the referenced linear feature, and a pop-up menu will open with information about the Linear Feature.

Linear Feature Listed Information - OpenRoads Screen Shot



Feature definitions allow for the use of attributes and descriptions to store additional information and to annotate the located feature. At this time, CTDOT is not using feature attributes – only field descriptions and feature descriptions.

Properties Feature Description - OpenRoads Dialog Box.png



Feature descriptions are used for general labeling, and field entered descriptions are used for specific information. For example, the feature code “WG” is the default description for all Water Gates, while “UL”, used to specify a Utility Pole with Light, may have a unique field description of “CLP688.” These description fields are used for annotating the feature through Drawing Production tools:

Survey Annotation from Freature Description- Screen Shot


Annotation for Survey elements is not automatically placed in the survey design file when survey data is processed as it is was in InRoads. Annotation tools must be used to manually activate the labels:

Annotation for Survey Tools - OpenRoads Icons


Survey models and elements can be annotated in the survey design file by the surveyor, or in any file that references the survey design file. Annotation can be placed in the active model by selecting an individual element, by use of a selection set, or for all civil elements by annotating the model. 

Annotations can be moved and removed individually by manually deleting the text, or by use of the Remove Element Annotation or the Remove Model Annotations command.



The CTDOT CADD Standards include several MicroStation levels that are specific to survey information. These levels are grouped in the level library using the prefix “E_”. There are survey levels for features as well as annotation:

Survey MicroStation Levels - Screen Shot

Levels can be turned on/off using the Level Display dialog. The Level Display dialog can be opened in all the various Workflows by selecting icon in the Primary group of the Home tab as shown below.

Level Display - OpenRoads Icon

The Level Display dialog includes the ability to filter the dialog to only show specific levels. By selecting the Existing Survey filter, the dialog will show only the survey levels.

Level Name Filter - OpenRoads Level Display Dialog Box