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About this City Journal

Highways & Interchanges, Railways & Infrastructure, Skyscrapers & Skylines, extensive mmp work and custom lots & BAT's.

Entries in this City Journal

Takingyouthere

Hello simtropolis, it's been awhile but after a long adjournment I'm finally back with some new content. For those who many not be aware back in October my SC4(and windows) hard drive(SSD) crashed. This eliminated everything I had created after entry 35 on this Journal. Feb 2016 was the last time I backed everything up(plugins, cities, pictures, etc) on a separate hard drive. Foolish, I know. It's not that I overlooked the possibility of a hard drive crash, in fact all my important personal stuff is backed up on separate drive and some of that is even backed up a second time on bluray discs. I backed my SC4 cities on weekly basis but for some strange reason at some point in time, I can't recall why (or understand), I moved that backup folder onto the SSD drive. So while I was still well prepared for save file corruption I was not prepared for hard drive corruption.

The rest of what follows would probably qualify as TMI so I've have put it in spoilers since most of it is not exactly SC4 related and it kind of bogs down this entry. Most of you are understandably here for pics so this way you can get right to them. *:) Note; Entry number 43 is reserved as a placeholder in case I'm one day able to recover the data that was meant to be shown in that entry.

Spoiler

The computer issues...
I probably should have expected the drive to crash as my computer was intermittently crashing or freezing on average a couple times a month for about two years. One particular program - Jet Audio, was causing a lot of those crashes/freezes. I keep my computer always on and not closing that program overnight would often result in the computer being frozen the next morning. I'm no computer expert but it seemed rather bizarre to me that a media player could do that and even more strangely it only happen when it was not actually playing music! So eventually I remembered to always close Jet Audio before going to sleep. But then suddenly firefox, which I also have running continuously as my primary browser started causing my computer to crash as well. Might of had something to do with the 500+ tabs I had open on at once(wtf I know). Then one day the computer froze when I tried to go into taskmanager to shut down firefox which was frozen itself. I had no other option but to pull the plug and when I turned the computer back on bios didn't recognize drive C:  :rage:
Let me tell you, rebuilding your operating system hard drive is a royal pain in the arse. Reinstalling the operating system is the easy part, it's getting and installing all the 50 or so other programs I had on it. The good news is since the clean install in November the computer hasn't crashed once. I no longer use Jetaudio or Firefox but I also didn't overclock it this time, I'm wondering if that might of been what was really causing the instability. Back when I first got the computer it was heavily overclocked, it ran fine for a couple weeks but then it started crashing like crazy once every couple days. The vendor told me to reduce the overclock and it ran perfectly for a couple years before it started crashing again but much more infrequently due to those programs that I mentioned above. Anyhow, I sent the damaged drive to a SDD recovery specialist. I heard promising news at first but then the wait started. I couldn't work on anything SC4 related until I knew what was up with the drive. It wasn't until almost 2 months later shortly before Christmas that they told me the drive was damaged beyond recovery. Thanks for nothing. But since they had a no cost assessment it at least didn't cost me anything. Had they been able to fix it the price would of been about 2000$ for parts and labor. A sum I would of actually been willing to pay at the time considering how many hundreds of hours of work(maybe even over a 1000) the data on that drive encompassed. But I wouldn't pay that now because my life no longer revolves around SC4.

A little bit about my life...
Having said all that however, believe it or but I can actually say without a doubt that 2016 was one of the best years of my life. First off I did get to show most of what I wanted in terms of my SC4 work over the course of 20 entries and clearly it was very well received by the community - so thank you very much for your support! *:D Yeah it was really crappy to have the drive crash and I felt bummed out at not being able to work on what I wanted to in SC4 but I did have an epiphany of sorts thanks to it. I realized very clearly for the first time that it was probably time for me to move on, that I should no longer indefinitely stay inside my little "bubble of hobbies".

Ok so what do I mean by that? Well lets start from the beginning.
Stop me if you heard this before but it's along story... after a failed relationship with the women I thought I would spend my life with several years back I lost all interest in being in a relationship. She was a young attractive university student with and it didn't take long for me to fall for her. She was not my first girlfriend but it was the first time that I truly put everything I had into a relationship. But after our first year together things started to change. She became more and more controlling and by the end of our second year before I realized it my life was completely focused on her to the detriment of everything else including my friends, family and the many hobbies I loved. Pretty on the outside but controlling, narcissistic and materialistic on the inside, but who am I to criticize everyone has their flaws right. Having said that I don't actually regret that relationship even though a lot of things changed for the worst because of it. For one I'm of the opinion it's better to have loved once than not to have loved at all and secondly I gained some invaluable life experiences. 

Anyways after that I decided to never again let anything or anyone get in the way of those hobbies which amounted to working on all things SC4 related, playing video games, watching/reading anime/manga, urban exploration, railfanning and religiously following my favorite sports teams and my music. I had a decent work life balance at first and I was able to accomplish some major life goals, such as buying my first place and eventually getting rid of all my debt. But then I was involve in an accident at work and I ended up being off work for over a year(from the end of 2014 and most of 2015). By then I had dropped a few hobbies such as urban exploration, railfanning & following skyscraper construction which I had spent much time on. So what ended up happening is I basically intentionally became a Hikikomori lol. Well I guess that's not entirely accurate, because I did still leave the house occasionally during that time to visit my family and this one friend which I managed to keep after losing most of them because of that ex. But I had absolutely no interest in meeting anyone new or trying anything new. My online life prospered though, in fact I'd found that I'd much rather talk with people through that means. I suppose that's really not all that unusual in this day and age. 

Anyhow at first I couldn't come back to work quickly due to the incident but eventually that changed from not being able to come back to not wanting to come back. I mean now I had an extra 40 hrs a week to spend on my hobbies! Over that period I probably spent about 5,000+hrs playing video games, mostly SC4 and BATing for the game all the while listening to the music I loved all day long. Ever since my late teens I have always had goals for the future that I'm chasing for myself. Being off work allowed me to accomplish one the biggest of those goals and one that I otherwise would never have been able to accomplish - that is creating a CJ for my favorite game of all time. Additionally I would never have been able to interacted with all of you on here. In that time I also managed to watch about 2,500 anime episodes, there was just so many series that I had been meaning to watch for years and it was great to finally catch up on them. There is always good and bad to every situation. So as bad as it may sound I don't regret being a lazy bum for about a year lol. The fact that there was almost no pressure for me to come back to work made it all the harder to actually come back. But I knew that eventually I had too of course, living the life of a teenager more than 10 years after the fact is not generally acceptable behavior. I was quite nervous when I did finally return to work but eventually things started to become normal again and now I'm certainly more than glad that I returned to being a productive member of society. 

So how does all the above relate to what happened with my hard drive crash? Well outside of going back to full time work things kinda stayed more or less the same. I still had goals for the future but most of those have a monetary attachment to them i.e. paying off the mortgage, buying a new car which I finally did two months ago(and I love it!) So those things will naturally happen thanks to the job. My free time however was still dedicated almost entirely to simcity, music & anime. When the drive crashed and I couldn't play SC4 anymore that's when it kind of hit me, just how much of a self indulgent life I was living and I've come to realize that it's probably time for me to slowly wind down those things. It wouldn't be possible for me to completely stop but I'll be spending less and less time on those. In that void that SC4 left I started going out and interacting with people more. I even started dating again for the first time in years which has been interesting to say the least and I've found a better balance between my hobbies and my relationships/obligations, neither one dominates over the other anymore.

Sp essentially this is my CJ retirement speech, just about 12 month or so in advance lol. I won't be anywhere near as active on the CJ and site as I was last year but I'll still come around often enough to be considered a regular member. I was hoping to publish a dozen entries in the journal this year covering the large city tile of Calgon which is the next city I was going to show after Baycole and the only one for which I miraculous had a recent backup of on a separate drive for some reason. Though considering how long it's taken me to get this entry finished, 10 entries for 2017 will likely be my upper limit. After Calgon is the city of Astoria, don't know yet if I'll have the time or patience to rebuild it. I might just have a couple final entries of that city in 2018 instead of the original dozen or so planned for it and then likely that will be the end of the region, the CJ and maybe my SC4 playing time. It's sad to think about but a lot of things can change between now and then, I'll be interesting to see which direction my life takes me *:) 

What was lost...
I find plugin and game modification to be a little tedious. As such I can't force myself to work on it, I can only work on them when the mood strikes me which it rarely does but it finally did last week. So I was able to remake the following of what was lost;
-A set of about 2 dozen different custom sidewalk and several cement texture mods, remade most of these.
-A set of custom embankment lots, remade some of these.
-Street tree modification mod, haven't remade it yet but definitely planning on it.
-Completely rebuild of my mmp folder. One of the biggest loses, if only because of how long it took me to do it the first time around. Surprisingly it wasn't as hard or boring to do the second time around. thus it has been remade! *:) 

Miscellaneous stuff;
-All my SC4 photo's. Well the best ones are basically the ones I've posted online in my CJ so while it was kinda of neat for me to see how my building style was like years ago I really didn't lose much in the way of quality work there. 
-Old version of my cites. Again it was kinda of cool to loadup my old cities and check them out, but really the latest version of every city is always going to be the best version so again not a big loss
-About 2 gb of plugins I had in my K4L folder short for "Keep for Later" meaning I had tried out these plugins but found no current use for them however they might be useful in the future. Not to big of a loss because I almost never ended up using stuff from that folder.

The Important Stuff;
-my city map project 200+ hours of work... good news is I have all the finished maps online, bad news is they're not in the highest quality. Not sure if I'll continue with the rest of the region so this project might be cancelled *:( 
-About a 100 hrs of work on Astoria and another 50 hrs on Calgon, two large sized city tiles I've yet to show. I've been working on Calgon the last few days and I've rebuilt most of that city.
-Somewhere between 250 to 300 hours of work on Baycole, basically the whole city *:( all that was seen in entries 37-42 and then some. I had one more entry to go which would of been similar in scale and quality to entry 42 so it sucks to lose that but I've since realized that I'm ok with losing everything else. Why? Well because I already showed it to you! In any case I'm am going to skip an entry # in the CJ just in case I get the city back. I figure some time in the future maybe a year or so from now, I'll try to get the hard drive fixed again. Hopefully the recovery technology for SSD drives will improve and the price will drop! Hence why this is entry 44 and not 43, which will be reserved for that last entry of Baycole in the unlikely event it is recovered.  
-100+ hrs of work transferring over putting the finishing touches and rendering the 3DS versions of nearly all my lattice tower BAT's. Good news is I still have all the gmax version. So I don't have to recreate them from scratch, thanks god cause that would of probably taken me well over a 1000 hours to remake. Yet to start but will eventually.
- Unfortunately I never made a backup of that "right-of-way hydro bat project" It's a complete loss, so it's release is cancelled *:(

 


Now onto today's subject matter which will cover what is probably going to be the largest and most complicated interchange in the entire region of Pretoria - The 5 Point's Interchange.
This interchange is located in the City of Calgon which is just west of Baycole and north of Dresden. It think I came up with the name Calgon from Calgary, but at this point I can't remember *:???:
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The interchange is the junction between Highways 700, 702 & 707 and as it's name suggests it is a 5 way interchange. This is the first RHW rebuild of this interchange. I say first because there is a second rebuild of the interchange which features no tunnels and is much more streamlined in appearance. But it's so different from this one that it's basically an entirely different interchange and this version is so massive that it would be a shame to not showcase it.

edit* For a better understanding of the network I'm adding the regional highway map here;tL2b4hZ.png
This entry was incredibly difficult to make. It seems the save file for the city is highly unstable/incompatible with my current plugins folder or something. In the process of rebuilding this interchange the game crashed about 50 or so times in the last several weeks which severely hampered my progress. I've encounter errors and crashes which I had never seen or even heard about before.  The numerous ways the game crashed on me are listed below, I've also placed this in the spoiler to shorten the dialog that is relevant to the point of this entry; 

Spoiler

 

- the simple act of opening a menu like landmarks or parks would occasionally crash the game 
- taking a screenshot would occasionally crash the game, more often when in night mode
- clicking on buildings, which were otherwise perfectly fine meaning I could click on them with no issues at first but then the second or third time I clicked on it the game would crash
- changing the terrain level using the smallest tool and by the smallest amount on a single tile would crash the city, again this was a weird crash because it would ok to do this on the exact same spot sometimes but then then the next time I reloaded the city and did this to the very same spot the game would crash
- random freezing(crash) while scrolling
- freezing(crash) after saving
- worst of all I suddenly developed prop pox for the first time in 13 years of playing SC4 after saving one time, but strangely enough it only effect 1/3rd of the city basically all lots on the east side of the city. Afterwords the pox did not spread but for a time new lots that I plopped anywhere in the city would also have the pox after I saved and reloaded the city, props on those lots would be missing. But then just as suddenly the pox stopped happening on new lots 

But somehow through all that and more I persevered to this projects completion. Lets just say I'll never touch that city save file again lol.

 


So where to begin with this one... how about with a map of the entire interchange and how it compares to the previous record holder of the title of the regions largest interchange - Spaghetti Junction. All maps are the exact same scale. 

Spaghetti Junction(newest & more compact version) vs 5 points.GttuOKV.jpg

And the old Spaghetti Junction which was larger vs 5 points
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vs The 5 points                                                   <---- is north
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One of the reasons why creating maps of interchanges interest me so much is long ago even well before I ever played sim city when I was maybe 10 year old I was completely mesmerized by city maps and the most interesting part of those city maps were where all those squiggly and curved lines which converged in tiny areas - interchanges. Afterword I would create random huge interchange designs on paper, wish I still had those but they disappeared long ago most likely throw away as junk by my parents 
*:no:


Ok let's go through the interchange from south to north starting from the 702 Northbound at the south portal. 

Highway 702 comes from Dresden and the South Shore borough of Pretoria. There is also one other(very large) interchange between the 5 Points and Dresden in Calgon that I'll show later. The 702 is highly congested at this point being only 4 lanes across. In the final version of 5 points this section has been upgrade to 6 lanes. The Fastraxx ME(Middle East) Commuter Rail line can be see at the top running underneath the highway in a tunnel before reaching Calgon (Central) Station while the L(Loop) line runs over the highway at the bottom of the image. For a refresher on commuter rail the network click HERE. Meanwhile ICR's freight line is on the right hand side of this image.
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Now here is where things start to get messy. The first lane at the top of the image is a local off ramp from the 702. Next is the EB 707 to SB 702 ramp. Then a local on-ramp, followed by 4 lanes of the 702 itself, then the NB 702 to EB 700/707 & NB 707 ramp and then finally a local off ramp.

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4. (note: image number count does not include the road maps)VJoSGMN.jpg
The next off ramp is the NB 702 to WB 707 which takes you directly into downtown Calgon.
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Overview of the Southern portal to the interchange.
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7.

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8. The NB 702 to WB 700 ramp is the tallest ramp in the interchange and is 45m/148ft above the lowest part of the interchange about 50m/164ft above the lowest tunnel. 
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9. Crossing over the 700
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Overview of the Eastern portal of the interchange. The 700/707 is up to 13 lanes wide in this section and from here continues on to Spaghetti Junction in Lindin City.
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Next we come to my favorite portion of the interchange, the central section. This maps shows the 7 levels of the interchange + arguably a 8th level for one of the tunnels.
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What little help this may be, it explains the purpose of each overhead ramps and the routing of the tunnels which are functional for cars and buses but not trucks. Yup it's a little on the complicated side *:P
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12.
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13.

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7 levels of interchange in one image. Can you make out all the height transitions in there? Hint; there's 13 *:D
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Moving further north we get to the point where the 700 crosses over the 702
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And then we get to the second big section of cluster of ramps. I'm not sure it would help to talk about which ramp goes where, probably best just to look at panoramic shots at the bottom of the entry to make sense of it all. :P
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17.
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18. The 700 crossing over the 3 rail lines with exit ramps going both over and under it, one of my favorite images
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19.
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This would be the western portal of the interchange.
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Back to the 702 which now turns into a collector/express highway system.
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22.
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This leads us to the final part of the interchange the northern gate and the boundary to Astoria, which takes us to the downtown area of Pretoria. 
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24.
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25.
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Aside from those sharp level 3 RHW curves, which hopefully will be smooth out in the future, I'm quite satisfied with the look and compactness of this section.
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27.
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You may have noticed a few other unusual things up there and kudos to you if you noticed all four :thumb:
The most obvious one is probably that one way bridge in there which might seem odd because it looks a little different from the rhw roads above and below it. I could of used a rhw overpass but then there wouldn't have been enough space to transition into the one-way road tunnel. I suppose I could of just built the rhw bridge just for eye candy purposes but I wanted to show the interchange in it's functional configuration. That is every path is usable by sims, although I'm having a heck of a time trying to get them to take some of those paths, seems they'd rather be stuck in traffic on local roads then take the express out of town.

I had to use a subway portal where the level 3 RHW crosses the the 3 railway tracks. It might look a little strange but it's much better than the alternative. Seems the level 3 RHW can't cross over 3 consecutive rail lines, it drops to a ground level crossing for the one in the middle which would of course look ridiculous. Meanwhile the subway portal ensure functionality on the railway line in the middle since passenger trains can turn into subway turns and vice versa without issue. The freight line on the top remains functional as well.  

It was very difficult to create this interchange because of all the grade changes over it's length, which resulted in the irregular ripples on the maxis highway curve. For those who don't know grade changes and the RHW go together like oil and water, thankfully with each version of the NAM terrain stability continues to improve. The original footprint of the maxis interchange that came before was much smaller so the city was originally built without realizing that one day I would need much more space for an interchange. For the final version of the 5 points I'm building I completely leveled out the terrain and started from scratch againt to build a fully accessible version without the use of tunnels. 

Lastly I had to use one of the old 45 degree flex fly ramps because the new piece is one zone large(5x5 as opposed to 4x4). That tiny little difference would otherwise have resulted in major changes to the interchange and a large expansion of its overall footprint. I know many rhw users might of been fine with that since highway interchange are space consuming objects, but I pride myself on building the tightest possible interchange while using smooth curves and transitions as much as possible. I had to modify the NAM files in order for this legacy piece to still show up in game. While I can't plop them anymore they won't disappear, which is what would happen if I didn't modify the file and more importantly they are still completely functional.

Next a few night shots to show that there is sufficient lighting around the interchange. Even though you may not know how to get to where you want to be you can at least see where your going!
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29.
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30.
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30.
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31.
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Now time for a little something I call the "eye spy" section... Let me know if you like this new section. *:)


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33.
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34.
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And finally, of course the mosaics. For reference sake I put the the original maxis version of the interchange that I set out to replace long ago in the spoilers below.

Spoiler


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Note that only things left from back then is the rail line and the townhouse subdivision on the left.

37.
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38.
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39.
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40.
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41.
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42.
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Forgot to add the interchange Stats!
Levels - 4
All Highways total entrance lanes - 41
Bridge Structures - 15
Total Crossings, time sa highway ramp crosses another - 37(not including tunnels)
Tunnels - 5
Ramps - 26 
FlexFly Ramps -  (2 - 90 degree/6 - 45 degree)
Height Transitions - 33

Thanks for stopping by, it feels good to get the CJ up and running again.

Takingyouthere

This entry continues from where I left off last time at Aizen fall's. Here's a couple of wide pano shots to jog your memory in case you forgot where we were on this trip down the Akallan river ;)
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I spent a lot of time experimenting with mmps and creating different landscapes in the next area. I particularly like how these scenes look up close so as with the last entry the photo are from the closest two zooms. More of the area around the base of Aizen's fall. The first bridge crossing the Akallan river at an angle is Vermont Drive.
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Crossing Vermont Drive by foot is not recommended, unless your prepare to get soaked from the fall's mist.
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The Akallan river then meanders under a several bridges the first being the aforementioned Vermont Drive, followed by the twin span of highway 705. Hard to believe but there was a time when I didn't use mmp in developed areas at all. But now meshing together functional urban development with mmp covered area's is definitely one of my favorite thing to do.
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On the north side of the river is a small city park(Jessibel Park).
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7.
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8.
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Further south there are two final bridges. The first is the Energy East oil pipeline and the last bridge to span the river is a rail bridge, carrying the ICR Lakeridge Sub.
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Three different modes of transit, road, rail & pipeline.
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ICR Train # 303 is seen going over the bridge. This is a regularly scheduled high priority inter-model train which can sometime be almost a mile long, which is the maximum length of trains allowed to operate within the city limits of Pretoria.
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12.
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A small pumping station for the oil pipeline.
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14.
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After passing the last of these bridges the Akallan river comes to end having reached Cisco Bay.
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17.
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To the west of the river along the north shore of Cisco Bay is Varsity Park, another popular recreational area in Baycole.
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19.
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ICR 303 rumbling through the neighborhood.
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Closes ups of the park.
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The shoreline here is a swampy marsh, spent a lot of time working on the land to sea transition here.
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25.
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26.
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This angle is probably my favorite
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28.
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29.
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And a couple more mosaics to go.
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31.
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The next entry will probably be the final entry from the city of Baycole and will feature the few unexplored areas of the city and plenty of large scale mosaics to show everything the city has to offer.

Takingyouthere

Talk about a complete one-eighty. When last we left Pretoria, I showed you the massive industrial monolith known as the Apotex Refinery. This time however we'll be looking exclusively at a natural landscape - the Rosco Valley.

It's been a very long time since I made an entry where the main focus was nature. The last time mmp work was one of the main feature(s) of an update was back in The Ring of Steel(entry 21) and the last time it was the exclusive feature was for Gravenhurst Mosaics(entry 12). That was also the last time I made a large scale water mmp scene. Needless to say it's been far too long. Truth be told, I've been avoiding creating (mmp)river scenes. You may or may not have noticed, but there's been a distinct lack of them in my journal so far, aside from waterfront scenes with in-game water. For one I've always been more focused on creating urban, transportation and industrial scenes. But the other reason is that I simply didn't have the confidence to realistically pull off such scenes. 

The last time I created an mmp river was around 3 to 4 years ago and it looked a little something like this;

Spoiler

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I was actually kind of proud of myself for being able to create that scene, especially since I hadn't been on any of the SC4 sites for a while at the time. It was the most elaborate mmp scene I had created to that date. Heck I didn't even know the meaning of 'mmp' then.

When I finally got around to being more active on this site and started my own CJ towards the end of 2014 I took a long look at what others had created and needless to say I was blown away. It was then I decided to simply stick to what I was good at. But like any true SC4 enthusiast one can't help but try out new things. I surprised myself a lot with what I've been able to create. Dresden(rebuilding it) was a revelation for me both with how much better I had gotten at city building and with the community response. I can't beleive I actually thought I couldn't improve my city building(urban areas) when I first started the CJ :lol: To be fair it had been a decade since I started playing the game by that point. I now believe the exact opposite, there is no such thing as reaching a 'peak' and there is always room for improvement no matter how good someone is. Following Dresden my focus was two-fold, I would further refine my specializations(transportation, industry) and I was going to tackle the things that I was avoiding both in-game i.e. river scenes, the airport(eventually) and 'out'-game i.e. plugin management, lot editing, realistic photoshoping. Whelps, I finally came around to creating that river scene and today I'll show you the results.

To note there has been no photoshopping of any the images. That's not to say that there's anything wrong with photoshopping, in fact my second to last entry featured nothing but photoshopped images. Through the use of image editing, players can create incredibly realistic scenes indeed almost photo realistic and those who can do it well should certainly be commended for their accomplishments and abilities. But at the same time while the end result looks fantastic I can't help but feel like the creator is no longer playing SC4 but rather some other game entirely. This is not meant to be a criticism of those who photoshop but simply describes a feeling I sometimes get when looking at them. Anyhow for my first mmp river scene I wanted to show exactly what can be done using only what is available to everyone in the game itself.

Also I've decided to take things one step further yet. In the process of trying to make the best scene possible I experimented with different terrain/rock mods. But what I ended up noticing most was that there was barely any difference at all. Once the 'mmp saturation' reaches a certain point, it practically doesn't matter what terrain mod(urban scenes are another matter) or rock mod you use. So I decided to go 'vanilla maxis' with this one, that is no terrain mods of any kind. Anyhow I think that's enough with the suspense and explanations, on with the show we go.


The Rosco Valley is located in Providence National Park, near the geographical center of the mid sized city of Baycole. At the base of this valley is Akallan river which you guess it, is named after a certain member of this site who's recent entries on creating river scenes motivated me to create my own river scenes and serves as a great resource and for those looking to make their own hand crafted rivers. Plus it's just a kick-ass name :yes:

Here the Akallan river emerges from the thick brush of Providence NP (i.e the edge of the map :P)
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Mcbride trail is a nature trail that runs along the northern/eastern bank of the river in this area.
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Spoiler

I left a few spots unfilled around there so that you can see the vanilla maxis rock texture underneath and the brownish/dirt-like hue it creates in places.
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The river bank quickly becomes more rocky as it enters into Rosco Valley.
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Here the Mcbride trail crosses over to the south bank of the Akallan river over a small pedestrian suspension bridge.
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The bridge is a popular recreational spot for locals.
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Just east of the bridge is a series of rapids as the river slowly drops in elevation.
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A couple different angles for your viewing pleasure :)
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The terrain is much steeper on the north side and large boulders occasion fall down towards the river which is why the trail continues on the south side.
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The river then starts to drop some more in elevation leading to another series of rapids. Large rocks have fallen into the river careening off this steep cliffs which rises over 650ft/200m above the valley floor.
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This is probably my favorite area of the river.
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Mcbride trail more or less ends at Miller St. which leads to the residential areas of Baycole.
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This part of the river is a popular spot for fishing.
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Just don't fall into the river because just beyond this spot is Aizen fall's. The height of falls is 155ft/47m, nothing too spectacular but more than enough to be fatal to anyone unfortunate enough to go over the edge.
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A short stub trail leads to a lookout over-looking the falls and the area below.
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Edit* Bonus terraformation pic added
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From here the river continues until it reaches Cisco Bay, that part of the city and plenty of other landscape scenes will be shown in the next entry. As always comments or suggestions are always appreciated, thanks for stopping by.

Takingyouthere

It's quite the exciting time on simtropolis these days is it? The trixies are finally upon us, meanwhile there's plenty of new and exciting developments in the pipeline, as can be see in the show us thread(s). It's fairly common around this time of the year for some of the more regular CJ creators to put out a yearly review of their work from the previous year(s). I was hoping to do the same however at the moment I don't have the time to make a entire new entry. Instead I'm 'piggy backing' a brief review into this entry, which in any case features what I think was probably my best work. 

In the past two years I've published 49 entries(29 in 2015 and 20 in 2016) with well over a thousand images in total. That's a lot to go through *:yes: 
So I've made a brief list entries which I think stand out the most in those two years. I'd very much appreciate it if you could kindly take a look through these.
It's going to be hard but I think it's important to try to differentiate what content was produced in what year so with an eye towards that I've separated the lists into two for each year.

2015
The year I stated this CJ. As such my work back then wasn't as refined in comparison to recent work and it was not definitely not on par with the front runners for best CJ of the year 2015, which imo would be Kim Sunwoo's "Leningrad," Tonraq's "Okaiken", Mymyjp's "New Manshin" & Ln X's "My SC4 Scrapbook". But there are some things that I think this journal would still be notable for in that year, specifically in regards to; roadgeek & railway work, overall transportation planning, industry, attention to detail, being informative, city and regional functionality, and showing large mosaics. All of which was probably best seen in the following two entries.

Not quite as intimidating as the 5 points but still quite massive in it's own right, the first appearance of;

And the megaplant, which a bit of a historical perspective to boot;

And another important road/rail entry was this one;

For a little total Overkill on the info/details/presentation there's these three entries :D 

Those would be the best 6 out of 29 entries in 2015.
I wasn't quite there yet with mmp's & CBD's (hey it rhymes!) and I'd think you'd probably agree. If you want to see for yourself, the best examples are; mmp - Gravenhust CBDCisco BayDresden

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2016
In brief, this was a good year for the CJ :) Of course it was also a very good year for a few others as well such as Kover's "True Earth" & Ln X's "My SC4 CJ Scrapbook". 
Once again the journal was heavy on transportation, industry, details and functionality with a new added focus on suburban & landscaped environments. 

Best of Industry(this entry) and;

Best of Transportation;

Railways, Mosaics and a the Road map;

Best of Suburbs;

Including this entry that highlights 8 of the 20 entries of the year, so I'll stop right here. I also showed you guys some detailed mmp work in entires 41 & 42 but there's others who showcased way more of that genre than I did, quality and quantity count.


Lastly there is an ongoing large scale project that I've been working on for the last couple of years which I first introduced here;


A BIG thanks again to all of you for stopping by and supporting the journal over the last two years. Let's have great trixie season!:thumb:
That concludes my brief 2-year review. Please check out the entry below if you haven't yet already.
Now if you'll excuse me for a bit, it's going to takemeawhile to put in all these trixie nominations :D 

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This is the last update featuring the Apotex Refinery and the industrial area of Baycole. Parts of the refinery, specifically the hydro corridor, tank farm(s) & associated piping, power plant & incinerator were already seen in entry 38 & 39. This time I'll be showing the central areas of the refinery and mosaics of the whole complex both day and night. This will be the last industrial update for a few. Entry's on landscaping and a major highway interchange are next on the agenda.

Central Unit Closeups
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The physical connection between the two sections can be seen below. Also the facility is partially automated which is why you see robots running around all over the place *:D
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Secondary Unit
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In the mood for some very colorful night shots? *:)
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And here come the mosaics. First the the Central Section(the Primary Production Unit)
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The Secondary Unit across the road and the rail fueling depot
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both looking West
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looking East
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Some wide angle pano action
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Final shot(s) of the entire facility.
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Spoiler

seen in another light
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Takingyouthere

Taking a break from the usual localized entries it's time for another all-encompassing E2 update(the last one was almost 8 months ago!) E2 is short for Encyclopedic Entry and it is a comprehensive analysis/overview of one specific system covering the entire region. The original plan was to have 12 of these updates, but there will be 10 now after cutting off 3 and adding 1 special entry - that special entry is today's.

What's special about this E2 is that instead of focusing on one specific system I'll instead be showing a variety of images from many different places across the region. Additionally to keep things fresh (for the images already seen) I'll be doing it in a way that as far as I know has not previously been done on Simtropolis - we'll be seeing their blueprints. These places encompass my best work in SC4 to date and my favorite things to create in-game(Industry, Infrastructure, Interchanges, Road & Rail networks, Lattice Towers & Skylines), with the exclusion of only my mmp work which doesn't pick up well with the blueprint photoshopping.

In any case I figured this would be as good of a time as any for an update that showcases the best of what I've done so far since I've likely passed the half way point of the CJ. This entry is in essence both a review of what's been shown and a teaser of what's to come(all the images in spoilers). It will quite likely be the biggest single entry of the CJ both in terms of the number of photo's and quality of content so I hope you like what you see.


Industry & Infrastructure
Seeing as how I'm working through the industrial heartland of the region it's only fitting that I start with Industry first.

Dresden Generation Station
You might be asking how many times must I show this place before enough's enough? lol, well these images are a little different then the ones before but more importantly I'm please to announce that I'm planning on releasing this relot on the exchange, so the next you'll be seeing this facility is in your own city. ;)
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As is the complex is made from several different modular lots, perhaps 2 dozen different ones in total. So it's going to take me a while to put it all together in one or two lots and it probably wouldn't look exactly the same but I'll do the best I can.

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Eastlea Power Plant
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Hillsboro TS
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South Shore Sewage Treatment Plant
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For sneak a peak at some of the industrial facilities I will be showing more of shortly, click on the spoilers below.

Spoiler

Industrial Area C
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Bastang Cement Plant
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The Apotex Refinery in it's entirety
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The ICON Smelter/Steel Mill
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Highway Interchanges
It simply wouldn't be an all-inclusive update without showing you my highway interchanges. Here's a fine selection of which for your viewing pleasure ;)

Cisco Bay
Highway 709/700 Interchange
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Highway 709/Crosby Ave. Interchange
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Sky Bridge, southern approach
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Dresden
The Z-change
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The Web
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Looper Junction, Highway 700/702(S)
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Lindin City
The Butterfly, Highway 705/709 (:lol:)
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Spaghetti Junction v1.0(NAM 32), Highway 700/704/707
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Spaghetti Junction v2.0(NAM 34), Highway 700/704/707
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Perhaps the biggest spoilers of all, some of the other major interchanges which all together have have taken me hundreds of hours to create.

Spoiler

Calgon
The Whirlwind, Highways 705/707
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The Transfer, Highways 702/705. A very usual interchange, still a work in progress
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5-points Interchange v1.0(NAM 32), Highways 700/702/707
The big one, bigger than Spaghetti Jct. A 7-level interchange, yes I said seven :) Obviously not a 'true' 7 level(5 is the NAM maximum), this is accomplished through the use of varying terrain levels and tunnels. WIP pic
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The 7 levels can be seen here, actually 8 if you count the one way tunnel at the top :P
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5-points Interchange v2.0(NAM 34), Highways 700/702/707
I'm also building another version of this interchange without the use of tunnels(with one exception). Promises to be yet another crazy interchange, the southern approach
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core section
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Astoria
The Black Hole v1.0(NAM 32) Highways, 702/705 interchange of 2 collector/express highways, western approach
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core section
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One of my current in-game projects is rebuilding this interchange to the NAM 34 'standard'. I'm also removing all the underground ramps which necessitates the construction of a true 5-level NAM interchange. It's very close to being fully functional and fully accessible now :) core section
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Road & Rail Networks
ICR & Fastraxx rail lines in Lindin City
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Frieght and Passenger rail lines in Dresden
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Telecommunications
A personal favorite of mine, still have plenty of custom BAT's(and relots) to show & release ;)

The Ring of Steel from below
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KIRO TV Tower
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WBNS TV Tower
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Some of the towers yet to come;

Spoiler

An even taller Lattice tower in Central Pretoria, Supertall actually :D
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Radio City, the central telecommunications complex for the entire region. A work in progress, in the final version the towers will be spaced out much more. Apologizes for the low quality resolution, can't show all my cards just yet ;)  But at least it gives an idea of how massive some of these towers are in comparison to a few I've already released.
from left to right; The Endless White, WBNS-TV, The Octagon, Bell-Cananda, The Rocket, The Pyramid of Steel, KIRO-TV, Russian Style, The Supertall Spire, The Star.
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Skylines
So far very little in the way of skylines has been shown so far but that will change as I get closer to the center of the metropolis.

Lindin City
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Cisco Bay
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Dresden
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Click on the Spoiler below for teasers of Central Pretoria;

Spoiler

Downtown Calgon
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The Medical District
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Downtown Astoria
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The Above & Beyond Tower
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Fin.


I'd love to hear which one is your favorite picture or place and what you are most looking forward to seeing next. Also big thanks to all those who voted on the last poll with regards to the hydro pylon textures, I'll give it one more week before the results are final as it's pretty close right now but it looks like I'll be changing the textures afterall.

*Update 07/08 I've modified the contrast and lightness settings on a number of the images so that the details are more clearly seen.

Takingyouthere

This entry will cover the east end of the refinery district but before I get to that I'm trying to finalize the texture selection for the hydro pylons I recently created and I would welcome your input. Imo this mod would best be used in either and industrial or suburban settings. It might be interesting to use in areas of higher densities too, but it would be largely be hidden amongst taller buildings so I think its more important to decide on how well it contrasts with development in areas of lower density buildings. Additionally you don't really need a space saving hydro pylon that goes over roads and railways outside of the city in open landscapes so getting the contrast right with natural scenery is less important as well. Imo, the lightest texture works best because it stands out more against the grayish textures used on most industrial lots, but if I'm wrong about that just let me know! :yes:

Vote on the poll for which option you think works better. Options are number from 1 to 3 from left to right, plus a 4th alternative option.
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Onto today's entry.

End of the Hydro Corridor
Here we see once again see the Eastlea hydro corridor running down Petrol drive. The piplines next to the roadway lead to Tank farm A with some diverging to one of the refineries flare stacks. A pedestrian ramp-bridge runs above the rail line to the main parking lot for the refinery which is located on vacant land squeezed in between between the rail line and highway 705. You can see the transition BAT I've created to start/end the hydro line.
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Some renders of the end piece in 3ds

Spoiler

If I ever decide to take up Cities Skylines I'll definitely make these into assets. Heck if someone wants to use the models for that purpose feel free to pm me and maybe we can work something out.
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Incinerator & Tank Farm A
At the end of Petrol Dr. is a small incinerator owned by the 'Squeaky Cleaning Company'. Kudos to you if you know where that comes from. Organic waste is stored in stainless steel drums outside the plant to mitigate odor pollution. Sometimes soiled recyclables are dropped off in piles outside the building. The facility is largely automated using robots to transport the drums minimizing manpower requirements and the sites overall foot print. The incinerator has a maximum capacity of 75 tons/hr 1800 tons/day through which it produces a small amount of power the maximum capacity of which is 88MW.  Tank farm A is located behind the incinerator and has 7 large & 8 small storage tanks.
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The coal wharf for the power plant is in this vicinity as well.
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This one of my favorite parts of the city, the transition from industry to nature.
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There will be a future entry that showcases more of my mmp work in this city.

Eastlea Power Plant
Turning back along the shoreline we encounter the Eastlea coal power plant. This small coal power plant was built by the Avalon Corporation in 1976 to provide power to their Apotex refinery and other facilities in Industrial Sector C. Excess power is sold to the PRPA (Pretoria Regional Power Authority) and routed to the Cental distribution grid via the Eastlea Hydro Corridor. The plant has only one unit with a nameplate capacity of 475MW. In comparison the massive Dresden GS across the Bay is nearly 5 times it's size at 2,240MW. Coal is delivered by only by ship to the port of Baycole using " handymax" bulk carriers with a capacity of about 50,000 DWT. The boiler is marred to a single-flue 400ft/122m tall smokestack. In contrast to most of the images so far this plant and the surrounding infrastructure is probably best view from a higher zoom.
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Port Facilities
Further west along the shore are the piers used to off-load crude oil.
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The central section of the refinery will be covered in a future update as well.

Night Shots
I hadn't shown any night shots in a while, so here's a couple for the road.
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Edit* Just remembered I promised to post a picture of the the 'train'. To get it all in one image with a decent level of resolution here's a odd little mosaic, bit of a mind bender actually :boggle:
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The end. Told ya it was a long train!

There is still more of the refinery to show but to cover it all it would double the length of this entry and after a while I think looking industrial lots might get a little repetitive to so. And so I'll take a break for the current topic and the next entry will instead be a special feature, the next in my series of overly informative Encyclopedic Entries. Except this time the information will be conveyed in a very unique way, stay tuned. 

Takingyouthere

Entry number 2 from the city of Baycole, this time I'll by showcasing the industrial sector of the city which contains an oil production facility - the Apotex Refinery, a small coal power plant, incinerator and the associated docks, rail loading and storage facilities for all of the above.

The Apotex Refinery is located on the north shore of Cisco Bay in Baycole, it is owned and operated by the Avalon corporation, one of the largest multi-national conglomerates on planet Azura. It is one of two massive facilities located in Industrial Sector C, the largest industrial area in the the region. The refinery has a daily crude oil processing capacity of 160,000 bbl/d (23,000 m3/d), is nearly 500m wide and over 1,100m long. Which is comparable to an oil production facility of its size in the real world.

This entry was suppose to be finished last week but I just couldn't stop myself from continually expanding the facility, fine tuning the game modification I used and making new custom content for it. In the end I've decided to spit the entry in two, there's just too many pictures and things to show in a single entry. The first entry will focus largely on the custom content(BAT's, relots & textures) that I made and cover the peripheral facilities and strucutres around the refinery.

First on the agenda is a look at some of the other custom embankment walls I've recently made.
The wall on the top is made from precast interlocking cement blocks, while the one at the bottom is poured concrete or at least that's what I hope they look like :) 
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Also upgraded the radio tower and added a large water tank as the top of the hill is an ideal location for both. The hill actually isn't as tall as it may look, being only 110ft above the highway, 160ft above the refinery level and almost 200ft above sea level. The interchange below is the only interchange in the city of Baycole between Highway 705 & Naphtha Rd. and is a generic design.
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The radio tower is 410ft/125m tall for an HAAT of 606ft/185m broadcasting TV & radio signals to the residents of Baycole.
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Close up of highway 705. A lot of gasoline trucks run down this highway on their way to and from to the refinery.
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  Time to check out the new BAT's. Here's the main project which I previewed earlier this month, a new type of hydro pylon;
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As you can tell it's of a very unique design and there's a very good reason for that I withheld. It's because these pylons are designed so that you can actually run railways directly underneath them! :D
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This power line is known as the Eastlea Hydro Corridor and transfers power to central Pretoria originating from the Eastlea power plant, it runs directly on top of a portion of the ICR mainline(Lakeridge sub). Tank farm B(7 tanks) is located to the north of the combined power & rail line while the refinery itself is located to the south.
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 A half a mile long ICR oil train is also seen here, stopped for switching on the mainline. This particular train has two locomotives and is hauling 44 tank cars.
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There are several other custom BAT and relots here as well to go along with the replacement textures I used to give the area a more industrial and grungy feel to it.
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On the western edge of the property straddling the ICR mainline is the rail fueling depot, where refinery products are transferred into rail cars.
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Gasoline is transferred onto trucks at a fueling station just south of the rail depot. Petroleum is also transferred via a pipeline running just north of the depot.
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Further south of the rail & truck depot and on the western edge of the refinery(and city) is the LNG terminal. The LNG is stored in 6 large tanks, 4 partially underground and 2 above ground. The LNG is transported from the facility either by truck or via an underground 48inch pipe.
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One of the refineries 500ft(152m) stacks looms large over the LNG terminal.
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Lets jump back to the hydro corridor & tank farm.
The feed lines to the tank farms diverge just north of the tracks. The pipes that go east lead to tank farm A while the pipes which turn west(left in the image below and towards the rail fueling depot) lead to tank farms B & C. Tank farm C is actually in he next city over, the pipe line which goes underground leads to it.
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I relotted NBVC overhead pipeline to go over 3 space here. I could of relotted it to go over the road as well but I think using bipin's underpass here and having it hook up to somy's huge tank looked cooler in the end ;) 
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With regards to the power lines. I fully intend to release the set once I've decided on the different possible directions/connections, such as diagonals, possible FAR angles too. Offset models will be offered as well. In fact tested one for this entry :D
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From here the Eastlea hydro corridor runs along Petrol Drive. Yes, you will be able to run these power lines down roads as well :yes:
Truly a godsend for cities lacking space for new hydro right-of-ways.
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The road ramp takes Naphtha Rd. over the ICR Lakeridge sub and that half-mile long freight train while the piping leads to tank farm A.
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29.
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30.
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And with an even 30 pictures that concludes the entry. The next one will showcase the core of the refinery, power plant and docks. Feel free to ask me about any of the content shown in this entry or if you have any recommendations for the content shown.

Takingyouthere

I'm finally back from my "semi hiatus". Haven't been around ST much and its been a over 2 months since the last CJ update, though it feels like it's been much longer. Long story short, too much going on IRL + SC4 burnout. Playing the game and being super active on ST was really cutting into my sleep time. But I think I'll be able to find a better balance going forward now :)

Baycole is a medium sized city located on the north shore of Cisco Bay, it's location in the region is highlighted in red below. This is the first update of a city in the Central Borough of Pretoria.
RTYRk0r.jpg

Baycole is mostly suburban in nature though several major industrial facilities are also located here. To be frank this city is more of a 'filler town', created to make the regional views look better so I didn't spend a lot of time building the city. Originally it was just a small suburban pocket to the east extending from Lindin City and a pocket of heavy industry on the west side with nothing in between.

Initial build form(2010);

Spoiler

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Later on I decided to develop the area in between the two areas. But the town is still more or less a suburban filler town so it's not as interesting as other areas of the region.
What is interesting is that I've been using this city as a test bed for custom content. This entry will focus on the suburban modifications, and I think the results will speak for themselves.

Original look of the suburbs of Baycole when first built, little had changed since.

Spoiler

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For those who remember my previous suburban work(highlighted in entries 25 & 32) the changes from then might not be obvious. To wit I say it's all about the 'T&T' Textures & Trees.

image 4. The suburbs today post modification;
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5. zoom level 5
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6.
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7.
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8.
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9.
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10. The recently extended highway 705 to the left
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11.
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12.
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13. Coltan High
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14.
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15.
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16. Baycole PD
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17.
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18.
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19.
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20.
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21.
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22.
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23.
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24.
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25. wide panos
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26.
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27.
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28. up close in zoom level 6
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29.
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30.
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The next entry will take a look at the industrial areas of town and the modifications I've made there.

Takingyouthere

I've been spending a lot of my SC4 time working on this little pet project and now I finally have some results to show for it which I'd like to share with you. And by 'share' I mean release on the ST exchange. Rather than just being known as someone who only showcases his work I want to contribute my little bit to the community as well. These will be the first releases of custom content from the CJ this year and I promise there will be much more. Whether you think these types of structures are cool(like me! :D) or if you think they look ugly, it doesn't change the fact that these towers are a very common sight in urban centers across the world yet they are largely under represented in sim city. Part of that is the lack of available BAT's but I plan on single handily changing that. Downloads, ratings, views, comments, etc. they're all nice but what I really want is to see them in your cities. I'm curious as to how other players will make use of them in various urban and natural settings.


The first re-release I have to show is the Murmansk Russian Style TV Tower. A simple but common 4-sided Russian design seen in several different Russian cities. Seen below on Broadcast Hill in the City of Cisco Bay.
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The biggest improvements in 3ds HD version are generally seen with towers that have a complex and closely bunched framework structure. In contrast this tower is of a much more 'airy' design, yet the improvements on this one are just as dramatic. Some of that can be attributed to a better selection of paint textures, I made use of a more realistic faded red & white.
new HD 3ds version                                                                                               old gmax version
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The one advantage the gmax version still have over the new 3ds models is visibility from higher zoom. The HD versions are barely visible from zoom level 1 & 2. But imo that does make sense since they are typically very thin and see-through structures in the real world. In any case I'll be keeping the old gmax version on the exchange in case anyone still wants to use them for that purpose. The newer version are better starting from either zoom level 3 or 4 and the closer you get the better it gets - the same can be said for most BAT's rendered using the HD setting.  They're most visibility using a simple or contrasting background.
Level 2 zoom in the city of Gravenhurst
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Level 3 zoom

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Level 4 zoom

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Level 5 zoom
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Level 6 zoom 
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The city-side view of the tower is less distinct and it blends in more with the buildings seen behind it. But I think that creates an interesting effect in its own right.
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As before there are two versions, one with a station building and another dependency-free version, enjoy!


Next up is actually a new release though it feels like an old one because I meant to upload this tower last year, unfortunately the gmax version did it no justice at all. It's the KIRO TV Tower from Seattle a city with many tall truss towers. 3-sided towers of a similar profile like this are commonly seen throughout the USA. The one thing that makes this one a little more distinct is the excessive number of horizontal beams.
Level 4 zoom
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Level 5 zoom
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Level 6 zoom
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City-side angle
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In an urban setting downtown Cisco Bay
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Here's what I was referring to before, the huge difference 3ds & the HD setting makes when it comes to towers as complex as this one. Definitely the most dramatic difference so far.
new HD 3ds version                                                                               old gmax version
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The version seen above is at a slightly different angle, this is to give you more variety and both versions are included in the release.

Next re-release is a tower from Brazil, the Torre da TV Record. Seen below in the Valhalla Park neighborhood of Dresden
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Tbh the improvement over the gmax version is not as dramatic as with the others, but that's no reason to not give you the HD option right! It's the only one of these releases for which there is only one version.


For those following the project this is probably the highest rated one. It's the WBNS TV Tower from Columbus. I've finally settled on the textures for it and I think they work well.
Level 5 zoom as seen on Mount Tokiko in Dresden
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Level 6 zoom
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The station call sign on the tower now lights up at night ;)  Test version;
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Final night version
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There are two versions in the release, a maxis night and a dark night.

There's also this unusual and custom made design. No idea if this could be possible IRL but it's a tower that uses circles(arches) in it's frame work. I call it the X Tower, seen overlooking Looper Junction in Dresden.
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A second version with a different texture & angle,  rising above the town of Evermore here
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Now back to real life. I haven't forgotten about the last two original releases. Unfortunately their not quite ready for release today but I will have them on the exchange shortly. Montreal's Mount Royal Candelabra Tower is getting a face life as well, seen below in Lindin City.J7wo9pW.jpg

 

Still trying to decide on what textures/colors to use with this one. This pinkish version might be a little much...
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There'll also be a second option with an different top.
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I like how you can actually see the stairwell that rotates around the bottom of the tower now :D
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And of course the most downloaded previous release, the Bell Canada Microwave Relay Tower. Again still decided on the final textures so no release yet, but here's a test version seen at Hillsoboro TS.
25nuHEW.jpgAnd downtown LC
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Again feel free to make any suggests or requests even on the released towers, I can always add an updated version onto the exchange at a later date.

Unfortunately this will be the last entry for a while as I've run out of finished content to show. Aside from spending much of my free time on the ToS project, I'm still in the process of remaking the next large city tile much in the same way as I did with Dresden. I'm not sure how long that will take, Dresden for instance took about 3 to 4 months. In any case this will be the 13th update in the last 15 weeks. Averaging almost an entry a week is not the kind of pace one can maintain indefinitely, at least not when you spend as much time as I do just making a CJ entry. So once again a big thanks to all those who follow the CJ. Your support - in 13 entries this year, including this one, you guys have given me 217 comments, 291 likes and over 1000 views per update! :O - helped motivated me to create what turned out to be my best work in the game to date and hopefully a string of BTT no.1's, but we'll see.  Cheers :thumb:

 

Takingyouthere

I've never been one to make short entries so rather then making several smaller ones I'll be merging a few different items/topics into one.

First on the agenda is that hydro crossing over Spaghetti Junction, below is the much improved new overhead crossing;
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2
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3
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4
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Spoiler


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I forgot to post some night shots in the last entry so here's a few for the road.
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Why only no darknight? Unfortunately even with all that lighting the darknight mod doesn't work so well(imo) for highways and interchanges;
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A part of Spaghetti junction extends into the next city over, which brings me to the next topic - Evermore
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Evermore itself(pop. 9,640) is little more than a filler/transitional city, there's really not much of note here aside from it's transportation related infrastructure which is the most interesting part of the city. This is the south east quadrant of the city which contains about half of the towns development and the most interesting part of it's transportation network.
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The most important thing about building this town was coordinating the highway and rail lines to connect in a cohesive way from a regional perspective. There is only one highway exit/entrance in Evermore, so there isn't any inner city movements on the highway. This is to mantain realistic spacing between interchanges and also the city is too small to justify a second exit that was lightly used. I say 'was' because back when I was using maxis highways there were two highway exits but one of them was barely used at all.
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12 lanes of highway come into Evermore from LC with Lexor Rd. being split in between the highway ramps.
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Chapel Junction is an interchange point between two of the regions major passenger train lines, the L(Loop) & ME(Middle East). Commuter trains do not normally cross over here but rather this junction is used for contingencies. In case of a track shut down or heavy congestion on one of the lines trains can be routed to the other route. The lines serve different stations and follow separate routes but their ultimate destination is the same - downtown Pretoria.
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30
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The single track spur line leads to a layover yard where trains are stored overnight at the end of the day. This way they don't have to run all the way back to the main yard in Central Pretoria and conversely they start from here in the morning as well, which reduces operating costs(fuel, maintenance, wages). Trains are rotated so that they store at a layover yard one night and then at the main terminal the next where there are more extensive repair & maintenance facilities.
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Evermore's Fastraxx station is only a stop on the L-line, which serves stations in the inner portion of the region and is lightly used by 336 people per day in the rush hour.
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Passengers wishing to get onto the ME line can get on the L line here and then proceed either east(to the Lindin City station) or west(to the Calgon station) where there is a transfer to the ME line.

Spoiler

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The other part of Evermore(the south west quadrant) is still a work in progress and will be shown at a latter date. There is one thing of some interest there... ;)


And on to the final item for this update. I've finally managed to get 3ds max to work for me and I'm in the process of completing several BAT's in addition to re-releasing a couple old ones.
I'd love to hear some feed back on these BATs specifically with their color/texture. I think the faded white & red on the 3ds version of the tower below works best. What I'm not completely sure about is if I should use essentially the same faded colors for the other(red/white) towers. I feel like changing it up from BAT to BAT so they look less simular, but maybe that's not the best approach.

Updated 3ds version on the left, original gmax version on the right.
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ToS-2
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Here's a few other color tests. ToS-3
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ToS-4
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ToS-5
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So what do you think? Do any of those other shades of red and white work, or should I just generally stick with the first example which is probably the most realistic.

One other open question I have is about height. I've taken one or two liberties in that respect but for the most part these structures are equal in height to their real world counterparts. I generally have not over scaled the towers which is in contrast with the recommended approach for custom buildings - which is to overscale them by 133%. Though it seems to me that while this is consistently done for floor heights its not quite as common when it comes to overall height. I don't have to worry about the floor height issue here but for those that use these towers do you find them to be under scaled or do they look properly scaled? I do feel like they might be under scaled but on the other hand there are plenty of taller towers in the works(250-350m range) so my gut feeling is not to alter the heights.

I'm open to and would appreciate any comments or suggestions on this matter, thanks in advance.

Takingyouthere

Spaghetti Junction was originally showcased in entry 13. I remember that entry quite well because it was perhaps the most time consuming thing I've ever made in SC4. The making of the CJ entry itself took something like 4 days. Making diagrams, GIF's and labeling things all take a lot of time. Though it's still only second to entry 15. That one took me about a week to make because of all those diagrams, the actually in game stuff for 15 probably took an hour or two lol. These days it usually takes me a day or days to make an entry on simtropolis, not the entire day but a good part of them. That is capturing all the in game images, screening out photos, making mosaics planning out the progression of an entry and uploading photos then adding a detailed explanations. Today's entry will be fairly light on the dialog since I've already gone into detail about this interchange in the past. It's purpose and use hasn't changed, only it's design.

The actually building of the updated version of this interchange took place over the course of 3-4 week. Mind you I was working on plenty of other things during that time. In total I'd say it took around 20 odd hours to build, which was less about half of the original. Let's just say the disconnector piece was a life saver. That includes several hours of mmp work I did last night :P There's a lot more landscaping that went into this version that the original.

As with Looper Junction, Spaghetti Junction was a major interchange I made last year using NAM 32 to replace Maxis Highway NAM interchanges. But unlike Looper, Spaghetti was made to a higher safety standard from the get-go. Extended merging/acceleration lanes and sweeping curves and extended height transitions were extensively used. However that doesn't mean things can't be improve on further. I was reluctant to update this interchange at first because of all the time I spent on it and since it wasn't really that flawed. The only real flaws, if you can call it that was the use what I call a 'hook ramp', its the one that loops around. While it actually looks kind of cool in game, it's not really realistic in the real world.I also liked how massive and wide the original was, it was quite realistic in size from a real world point of view, yet another reason why I was originally reluctant to rebuild it. But one of the things I like the most about  the NAM is the challenge of making things as compact as possible and without sacrificing safety or aesthetics. I think I've definitely managed to do both here. The interchange remains fully accessible, that is vehicles entering the interchange from any of the 4 main highways can connect to all the others. 
For detailed mosaic's of the whole interchange scroll to the bottom :)

Stats
Levels - 4
All Highways total entrance lanes - 32
Bridge Structures - 9
Total Crossings(time sa highway ramp crosses another) - 33
Tunnels - 0
Ramps - 19 
FlexFly Ramps - 14  (4 - 90 degree/10 - 45 degree)
Height Transitions - 18

To start off here's a comparisons between the old and the new versions,
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Spoiler

NAM 32 version
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NAM 34 version
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From the map it looks like I was able to use many of the old ramp, but that was definitely not the case. I had to rebuild practically everything from scratch except from the entry point of the ground level highway 700.

NAM 32 version
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NAM 34 version
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B & A
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On the front page I mentioned that this interchange takes the new NAM to it's limits which it does in terms of compactness. This design can literally not get any smaller without sacrificing the smooth flex-fly curves and gradual height transitions . It's so compact that I couldn't fit flex-height transitions in many areas because you need at least one starter piece next to them to get them to work right. Once I figured out the general design building proceeded smoothly. But there were a few parts that really stumped me for a while. In the spoilers below I will detail the main issues that I had with building the interchange. Fell free to skip over this part if you just want to see the end results ;)

 

Spoiler


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How to get the diagonal single RHW ramp at level 0 to go under the interchange took the longest to figure out(#1).
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And when I finally did figure out a path it wouldn't stay as a single lane RHW and revert back to the regular 2-lan RHW. It's the one spot where I had to use filler piece to complete. But traffic still runs on it so really it's not an issue. It's fragile like glass thou, if a bulldoze a single piece of it, half the interchange will collapse. Found that out the hard way :P 

The neighborhood connection to the was nearly impossible to build from the Eastbound 707. Because you can't link level 1 RHW to the next city over I had to start it off as a level 2 connection and then bring it down to level one before it crosses over the Westbound 700 curving underneath it. That flex transition would not work right for the longest time (#2 above). I can't even remember what trick I used to finally get it to work right. These section (#3 above) had to be level 1 RHW because I was getting this problem(at #4 above);
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And no amount of clicking around would correct it. I got the same problem at first when I reversed the levels and put the diagonal single RHW at level 1 and straight RHW at level two but thankfully after 6 or 7 clicks it fixed itself. From here the levels for each ramp were set in stone. Also the height transition (at #5) would of been much longer if it was at level 2 RHW. Then the FAR ramp just past the height transition would be much further away and that would make the interchange either much larger or look less seamless.

The height transition at #6 was also very precarious and took some effort and several rebuilds of the surrounding area to get all the connections to work right.


Now on with the show!

First thing I want to show is the water feature in the middle of the interchange. This is a storm water management pond which has become a fairly common feature in many of the new larger interchanges built around the globe today. Highway interchange take up a lot of space so it only makes sense to try to make use of that space in some useful way.
Image 8 (not including maps)
hQe0wxv.jpgAt first I just made it in the empty space but it looked a little on the small size and then I thought why not extend it underneath the elevated highway itself?
You can also clearly make out where the interchange is 4 levels high next to the pond.
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Let's start the tour of the interchange coming from the east (highway 700). From this direction you get a good view of most of the ramps but I'll change up the angle as I work my way down.
10 Heading westbound on the 707 approaching the Cordova Ave bridge
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11 Right
after the overpass is the first exit on the right side,to the 700 southbound.
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12 Mosaic of the area around the Cordova Rd. overpass.
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13 There are a couple of local connectors here.
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14 On the right side is the local on-ramp from Trafalgar Rd. which merges with the 707 off-ramp to the 700 southbound.
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15 On the left side is the off-ramp to Howland Rd. off the 707.
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16 Overview of the area
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17
Continuing east down the 707 we come up to the on/off ramps to the northbound 704. This is an inside ramp so drivers need to be vigilant to make sure they're going the right way.
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Probably the best angle of how these ramps diverge.
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Just south of here is the Tauon Hydro corridor. Previously I had the power lines cross the highway but I wasn't entirely satisfied with the way they looked and decided to get rid of them for now to give a clear view of the interchange for this update.

Spoiler

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22  At this point the power lines go into and underground hydro vault and continue below the surface
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23
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I'm working on an interesting above ground solution... I'm not quite ready to show what I have in mind, but it'll be ready soon ;)

24
And now here's were the spaghetti really begins... 
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Hope I didn't lose you in there! :P
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If you took the off ramps to the 704, whether on purpose or by accident(lol) you'll get to this area, which I like to call 'the fingers'.
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It was quite tricky getting the RHW to work properly here with height transitions so close to flex fly pieces.
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Past the fingers are the the on/off ramps for the 704 the design for which hasn't changed from the NAM 32 version. I did move the ramps one tile further south to help smooth out the grade of highway 704 which goes up a steep incline north of here. There's literally no extra space space at all in the interchange, that is for every tile going north/south or east/west a ramp is curving or elevating.
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31 The ramps to the 704 from the 707 and vice versa.
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33 Move on further west we get to 'the wave'
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Now we're back to the pond seen at the beginning. You could say the four level stack here is the meat of the dish :P
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Past here going west the 707 merges with the 700 as we reach the city limits. In the next city over there is a transfer where the collector/local lanes merge with the express. Several of the ramps which previous extended over into the next city have been eliminated with the rebuild eg. the one on the south side/left use to start in the next city over.
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If you took the off ramp to the southbound 700 you come out on these two elevated ramps
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40 The portion south of here has not changed from the NAM32 version. Highway 700 here could of been made smaller(oops! I guess wasn't completely correct about the no wasted space part, but that does apply to all the rebuilt sections) but I liked how the highway curved right before going left.
The two ramps, one from the 707 the other from the 704, merge and then you have to option of getting off in downtown LC or continuing further south by merging onto the 700 which will take you to (The City of)Cisco Bay or Dresden
.uGt55wW.jpg

 

That concludes the tour,. To close out the entry here's a few traffic flow gifs and of course full interchange mosaics.
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And that concludes this entry. Happy Easter everyone!

Takingyouthere

This will be the final entry from the South Shore borough and the Dresden.
Dresden was joy to build, modernize(repeatedly) and finally showcase. But now 16 entries(a bit much for a single city right?) and 9 months later its finally time to close this chapter and move on. Much work still needs to be done on my future cities to reach the same level of refinement/detail as seen in Dresden and the pace of CJ entries will most likely slow down from here on. The currently pace of nearly one per week since the new year is not sustainable as I'm starting to see the dreaded signs of an SC4 burnout.

The only thing I haven't done yet is show how the city looks like from elevated views, both day and nite so that's what this final entry will be comprised off. I rarely take photo's from level 2 or 3 zooms because you can't see the finer details, but I have say they're really good for showing networks.

Before I start I like to give big thank you to all those who took the time to comment on this chapter of the CJ; __B, 9gruntsand1hammer, art128, Artimus, Belfastsocrates, Benedict, Bipin, city89, CMinVA, Compdude787, Cyclone Boom, DavidDHetzel, dedgren, Dreadnought, Ducio, egret, Fatjuice, feyss, gen.Falcon, GoKingsGo, gviper, heartless, Hellken, Jack_wilds, J0nnD0ugh, JoshusGellock, kelistmac, Kim Sunwoo, kingofsimcity, kschmidt, lair, Linoa06, Ln X, lucasfg3, michae95l, MilitantRadical, MissVanleider, Mister Giggles, morris128, mrsmartman, MushyMushy, Mymyjp, Need4Camaro, nos.17, Paulobergonci, philforhockey51, Prophet42, raynev1, rkellyywlu, Sabertooth78, Schulmanator, sejr99999, Skimbo, slickbg56, Snugies, sucram17, Swordmaster, T Wrecks, tankmank, tariely, Tekindus, Themistokles, Thomas Diamond, Titanicbuff, Tonraq, Toothless Stitch, Tys, ulisse, Urban Constanta, v701, wirralsquirral & Xander Dax.
And to everyone else who follows and/or has 'liked' the CJ, your continued support is invaluable. :yes:

Let's begin 1
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2
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3
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4
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Before I forget, a couple of 'closer' shots of Industrial Sector D at night (as requested by @wirralsquirral, e29)
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And a couple Suburban panos for the road.
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Esna parkway & The Ring of Steel with downtown Dresden in the background at night.
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Now on to the Portlands, my favorite area for taking night shots.
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Surprise! You don't think I used the dark night mod did you? :no:
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Who says you can't use both? :) 
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17
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18

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19
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21
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City wide photos
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26
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27

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That's it, show's over. :(
But...

Preview of things to come
Central Pretoria is much more heavily urbanized then Dresden and the South Shore, so the interchanges and highway system is much more complicated here.
P1
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P2
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P3 (WIP)
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Heavy Industry will also be another big focus
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P5
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P6
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There'll be plenty of rail work and a large port to show as well.
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P8
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Though I still have lots of mmp work that needs to be done before certain areas are finished.
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And I'm hoping to finally restart my favorite little side project. With any luck there should be a couple of releases in the near future ;)
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P11
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Thanks again for stopping by.

 

Takingyouthere

This entry will cover the passenger and freight rail network in Dresden. Slight difference in format as this time I'll intersperse the mosaics' throughout the entry. I'll go over the passenger train network first and then go over the freight train network(s). Some of the images will cover locations already seen(but no duplicate photo's were used) but in order for this to be an all encompassing update they will be included here as well. However most of the mosaics seen below are taken from a higher and wider/longer perspective which gives a much better sense of how the network runs through the city.
But first I'll start with something I've been working on for a long time. Completion of this project has been delayed mostly due to city building and work on the CJ but I've finally managed to finish this sucker - the Dresden city map.
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Passenger Service
The city is served by two Fastraxx commuter train lines - the L(Loop) line and the SS(South Shore) line. There are 5 train stations in the city, 4 on the L line and 2 on the SS line. Dresden station located in the downtown area serves both lines allowing for commuters to transfer over between the two. The L line features all day(5am to 1pm) commuter train service operating every 15 minutes in both directions while commuter trains only run during the peak period(morning and afternoon rush hours) on the SS line. Hallmark trains, the name of the inter-regional train service(the equivalent to Amtrak) operates regional long distance trains on the SS line. The only station that they stop at is the Dresden(downtown) station.

1 The first station on the combined L & SS lines coming into the city from the north is Portlands. This station is fairly busy because of the nearby Industrial Sector G which is directly to the east of it. SS line trains pass through the station without stopping. The station is built on a viaduct that is 1.85km and passes over 10 roadways.
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2 Average daily ridership is 3,945(all number used are actual in-game counts), parking for 180 vehicles is provided in a small surface lot across Edison Rd.
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The next stop on the combined line is Dresden(downtown) station. You can barely see the station itself because of the surrounding highrises. Average daily ridership is 5,961 and parking for 1,250 vehicles is provided in an underground lot. As mentioned above, trains on both lines stop here as do regional trains. The station is currently operating near maximum capacity.
It's difficult increase service any further because the station(and the entire viaduct) has only two tracks. Problem is there is no space to add an additional track(s) through the area without demolishing many highrise buildings. That's the in-game justification, out of the simulation the problem is the nearby curves don't really allow for any space for a turnout.

A total of 192 trains pass through the station on a daily basis:
-160 on the L line, all-day(20 hours) 15min service in both directions
-32 on the SS line, 10 commuter trains every 20 minutes northbound in the morning rush hour(s) and the same number and spacing for southbound trains in the evening. Additional, 12 daily regional trains, 6 northbound 6 southbound
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4 The L & SS lines diverge between this station and the next stop, Orchard Height. If you've seen just about any of my previous dozen or so updates you'll have seen this junction already but for completion purposes here it is again.
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5 The SS line continues southward, stopping at Woodside before leaving the city. The station is currently very lightly used with an average daily ridership of only 281. Proposals have been tendered to develop nearby land which would greatly increase it's usage and the location could certainly use some work.
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6 The L line meanwhile continues northeast, stopping next at Orchard Heights. Daily usage is 1,061 commuters with a surface lot of 255 spaces.
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7 The last stop on the L line in Dresden is Gonzaga, another lightly used station with a daily ridership of 312 and parking for 170 vehicles.
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8
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For the record, Gonzaga is the name of a small neighborhood in Dresden's north east quadrant. In all honesty it's the least interesting of Dresden communities, mostly because the roadways all straighten out before entering the next city over.
In any case here's a little pano of what Gonzaga generally looks like.
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Freight service
Both of the regions two major freight companies operate line through Dresden. The ICR's(InterContinental Railway) Lakeridge subdivision(railway specific term for a mainline corridor) runs northeast to south. First running along side the crest of the Costello mountain range before spiting the communities of Orchard Heights and Valhalla Park. Next it crosses over the Farham corridor and highway 702 on a 440m long viaduct(seen up close in the last entry images 17&18) before cutting though Woodside on an elevated embankment. ICR's Sumeria spur branches off the Lakeridge sub(northward), runs around Valhalla Hill and connects to the GWR mainline at the Sumeria-Dykon Junction where traffic between the two freight companies is interchanged.

The GWR's(Great Western Railway) has 3 mainlines in the city. The Almera sub. enters the city from the northeast and runs along the shoreline of Cisco Bay until the Sumeria-Dykon Junction. The Portland sub. enters the city from the north via the Vandenburg tunnel under Cisco Bay, curves eastward through the Portlands area and ends at the Sumeria-Dykon Jct. Lastly the Farham sub. begins at the Sumeria-Dykon Jct and runs southward, adjacent to(but physically separated from) the SS commuter rail line between the Woodside & Valhalla Park neighborhoods. All the above mentioned mainline rail corridors are double tracked, signalized and fully grade separated from road traffic. The Sumeria spur has grade crossing but is not considered a "mainline". The Almera & Farham subs are connected to each other with what in railway parlance is called a "connecting track"(what else would they call it? :)) at the Sumeria-Dykon Jct to complete the wye. The GWR also has a medium sized intermodel facility and rail yard adjacent to the port of Dresden. There are multiple private rail sidings and spurs throughout the city, mostly concentrated within Industrial Sector G.

All of that talk about running this way and through such and such location is difficult to conceptualize, so here's another map of the city with all the mainlines and important connecting tracks properly labeled and uniquely colored.
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We'll start off with thew Portland sub. in the northwest quadrant of the city and go from there.
11 After exiting the Vandenburg tunnel from Calgon, GWR's Portland sub runs along side highway 700 and the Fastraxx commuter line
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12 The mainline then enters into Industrial Sector G where GWR's Aberdeen Yard is located.
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13 Up close the yard admittedly could use some more work, I have some rail car props but I haven't gotten around to relotting them yet. But from afar things are much more interesting;
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14 Just east of Aberdeen yard is the "Racetrack Intermodel" Facility, so called for it's likeness to a racetrack. The runaround track allows trains to change directions without having to wye or disconnect the engines and reconnect them on the opposite end of the train either of which are much more time consuming activities. The facility seen at the bottom of the image is the South Shore sewage treatment plant originally shown in entry 29.
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15 The Portland's control tower rises above the area and was actually once the tallest structure in the city.
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16 The Port of Dresden is lightly used compared to the Port of Calgon on the other side of Cisco Bay. Most of the lots used here are of the older and probably less interesting variety, it might be something that I'll change in the future or I might just keep em'. Either way I don't like to use the same kinds of lots and buildings in another city if I've already used them once before.
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Another angle of the Port & Rail yard, one of my favorite images of the update.
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18 The Portland Sub the continues on until the Sumeira-Dykon Jct where it officially ends. This junction is where GWR's 3 mainlines converge along with the Sumeria spur leading to the ICR mainline.
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19 The single track rail line is the Farham-Almera connecting track, though it's only lightly used because most of the freight traffic continues off either of those lines onto the Portland sub in order to get to Central Pretoria.
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The Almera sub begins at the Junction and continues north east towards the City of Cisco Bay in the Middle East borough and points further East. I posted some similar image in a previous update as the one below but this one is one zoom level higher and more inclusive. It covers the GWR mainline from the Portland sub.(entering on the right side midway down the image)to the Almera sub. exiting at the bottom of the image.
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21 The Almera sub runs next the the power plant and then through undeveloped land along the shoreline of Cisco Bay before exiting the city and entering the Middle East borough of Pretoria.
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22 The Fraham sub also begins at the Sumeria-Dykon Junction but instead continues southward. The lower portion of the junction is actually one of my favorite network connections. It wasn't easy to link the two railway companies lines together with what is know as the Sumeria spur especially considering the switch onto the Farham sub need to be facing northward, otherwise freight traffic from the ICR would be just doing one big nonsensical U-turn. Managed to figure out what I think is an interesting and very compact solution that I've been hiding from view until now ;) 
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23 All that's missing is proper RRW textures under the highway which I think is something the NAM team is currently working on.
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ICR's Sumeria Spur(the single track line) runs around the neighborhood of Valhalla Park. It passes underneath highway 700 no less than three times and once under the L-line before finally linking up with ICR's mainline. Although it might no be noticeable, there is a significant change in elevation along the spur of 52m/171ft.
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25 Closeup of the Sumeria Spur junction with the ICR mainline
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While I feel I've done even more elaborate work with highway networks in cities I've yet to show, Dresden is probably my best work with railroads to date and will be hard to surpass;
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27
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Going north from the switch in the ICR, the line meets up with the commuter L-line just east of the Orchard Heights station and shares the same corridor(the Lakeridge corridor) but is otherwise complete separated.
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Now lest go back south. The ICR line runs above and the GWR line( the Farham sub) runs below in the same corridor as the SS line for about 2km. I've already shown plenty of close up shots of the area but never a shot of the 'complete picture' So without further ado, here is the Farham corridor in it's entirety
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30
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Takingyouthere

This update will cover the last two neighborhoods of Dresden; Valhalla Park & Woodside which are located towards the central & southern portion of the city. These neighborhoods are largely suburban in nature with only a few small pockets of commercial, institutional or industrial development.

How the cites areas/neighborhoods of Dresden are divided up;
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First some colorful closeups of Valhalla Park, arguably the nicest suburban area in the entire region. These photo's beg the question, is there such a thing as too much tree cover?
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3
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4
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5
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Places of local interest (by 'places of interest' I mean visual interest, not landmarks for tourist)
Located near the center of Valhalla Park and nestled in between two rail corridors is Our Holy Grace Catholic High School. With 593 students(2015), this is the largest of Dresden's 4 high schools(2 public, 1 catholic & 1 private). The school has extensive sports facilities and is home to the popular Red Back's highschool football team. There is also a chapel and numerous footpaths for students to take.
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7
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Russ Jasckson Elementary School and the adjacent Kensington Park in Woodside. 335 total students, one of 5 elementary schools in Dresden.
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9 The park has multiple tennis & basketball courts, an outdoor swimming pool, a racket court and a nearby community garden.
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Dresden Main Water Reservoir
With a total capacity of 50,000 cubic meters of water, or rather 5 million liters! this is the largest of Dresden's 10 water towers/tanks. When full there is enough water to fill up two Olympic sized swimming pools. Thankfully there are no olympic sized swimming pools to fill in Dresden. :P
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Spoiler

view of the tank from the ground
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11
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12
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If your interested, 'TMT Inc.' can build a a water tower for your city(with your city name on it), though it will cost you a 'like' :lol:

Jamison Ford Elementary School & Valhalla Park PD at the intersection of Middleton Rd. & Genosha Blvd.
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14 A small industrial park near the underpass Rd. Interchange.
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15 Commercial development at the edge of the downtown district/Woodside neighborhood.
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There is also a plasma gasification waste disposal plant nearby seen in entry 29.

Local Transportation connections
This area of Dresden is largely car dependent due in large part to the barriers created by the highway and railway corridors cutting through the area. Still community connectivity is an important aspect for creating a cohesive and desirable suburban environment. In recent years Dresden city council has spent much time and effort on improving the pedestrian realm by building new footpaths and bridges. So rather than showing the roads first I'll cover the pedestrian network instead.

Valhalla Parks pedestrian footpath network;

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17 One of most important links in the network is the recently constructed pedestrian bridge over the Fastraxx & GWR lines an otherwise major barrier.
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18 The bridge was partially built over BioHazrd Inc. property. The old route, the footpath that lead to the Genosha Blvd. tunnel remains in place but the tunnel is not very pedestrian friendly.
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19 From here the path goes under the IRC line and then highway 702
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20 Other parts of the network include the pedestrian bridge over Station Rd.
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21 A long flight of stairs leading to Industrial Sector G, it's good exercise! :]
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22 In case your wondering this route is TE enable and heavily used. It's also not as bad of a climb as it looks, only 130 steps to the top which is 90ft/27m higher.
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and footpaths along Middleton Rd.
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Roadways
For Valhalla Park, the main roads leading out of the community are Genosha Blvd. (west) which leads to downtown Dresden which as you can see is typically very congested.
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25 Middleton Rd. north to Orchard Heights
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26 Underpass Rd. and Milldeton Rd. south & west to Woodside and of course the 702, to points further south or north.
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For Woodside, aside from Underpass Rd. & the 702 seen above there is Esna Parkway which is used by many to reach downtown Dresden. The Hope Springs Eternal Church is at the top of the image.
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28 And Indigo Rd. which runs along the north east edge of mount Tokiko. west to downtown Dresden.
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And now once again it's time for my favorite part, the mosaics! :party:
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31
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32 Angles
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33 Probably my favorites, from Genosha to the 700
Gqj3xg2.jpg34 ...and back
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35
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That brings to a close another long entry. As much as I've loved building and covering Dresden the next entry will likely be the last one of the city. For one most of the city has been developed and shown but secondly it has also become oh so frustrating to work with. Less than a month ago it took only about 80 seconds to load the city, now it takes nearly 3 minutes plus the game freezes for another minute shortly after it loads. Also the city crashes almost every time I change a zoom level, even with the CPU set to 1. I'm guessing it's because of all the mmp'ing and new lots I've used, some of which I haven't extensively tested like I normally do because I wanted expiate the city building process.
 

Takingyouthere

For this update we head back to Orchard Heights first seen in entry 25. Back then I only showed closeups and focused on the hydro corridor and the residential area surrounding it. But in recent years this neighborhood has developed a small commercial downtown owning largely to the governments policy of intensifying density near Fastraxx commuter train stations. The area now accounts for a little under 20% (5500 of 29,000) of Dresden's commercial jobs while12,600 live in the area.
The Orchard Heights train station is on the south side of the neighborhood while the Web Interchange, originally seen in entry 26, is just to the south west. This was an entry that I was going to post on Tuesday but then I had to use system restore after my computer crashed which wipe out all the images I original took of the area. So I had to start from scratch again. In any case, hope you like it! :)

Overview of Orchard Heights with the major thoroughfares.
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First let's take a look at the neighborhood's points of access, major employers and notable places of culture & recreation.
The primary means of reaching Orchard Heights is of course via The Web interchange and the train station.
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The Orchard Heights train station is a stop on the Fastraxx line. As noted in the Fastraxx E2, this line has all-day train service(think RER type of service). The stop is used by 1,061 commuters daily and has a surface  parking lot with 255 spaces. Because of it's proximity to Orchard Heights mini downtown(even the farthest offices are only about 500m away) most commuters walk to and from the station.
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If we go southward on Middleton Rd. from here we arrive to the neighborhood of Valhalla Park which begins on the other side of the rail underpass. This rail line is ICR's  Lakeridge subdivision, one of two lines that carries freight traffic to points further south of Pretoria.
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The single track line is the ICR Sumira Spur which connects to the GWR's rail network allowing the two companies to interchange rail traffic.
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The first major office building is across the street from the train station. The SimCityPolska building is located on the north east corner of Michigan Rd. & Middleton Rd. SimCityPolska is a compute game development company that employs 150 people. Their offices are located on the top two floors of the building while the remaining floors are leased to other companies.Employees working here can conveniently take the train in, walk across the street and be at work. That hasn't stopped them from building a moderately sized above ground parking garage with 175 spaces on the east side of the building. I suppose you can't expect everyone to take transit. A total of 558 people work in the building. On & off ramps to the 700 are just to the west of here.
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The fisherman's Bar and a gas station are located on the side side of Michigan Rd.
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Orchard Height's largest employer is the TMB, short for the "The Major Bank". They have a branch office located on the corner of Middleton Rd and Ruiko Dr. just to the north of the 700. Nearly 800 people work here. TMB Plaza is the tallest building in Orchard Heights at 78m/255ft. All other buildings in the area are under 200ft(except for the Holy Trinity's steeple). Though this still only makes it Dresden's 23rd tallest. There was some concern about it's height and density as local residents feared that it set a new precedent for buildings in the area. But the new city council has so far rejected all application for taller buildings in Orchard Heights. On the east side of the intersection is Dresden's second largest hotel(behind only the 200-room Hotel Mercure in downtown Dresden), the 132 room Shangri-la Hotel Dresden. The access ramp to a large 600 space underground parking lot for both buildings is just east of the hotel.
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Spoiler

For the record here is Hotel Mercure in downtown Dresden.
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Turning left(west) on Ruiko Dr. are a couple more on/off ramps to the 700 past them there is a farmers market and a discount department store.
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Further west down Grenadier Rd. where it transitions to Portlands Rd. on the other side of the Web interchange is Enders Mall. While technically outside of Orchard Heights, it's actually in the area known as Industrial sector G, the mall is frequented by residents from Orchard Heights. Despite being less than half a km away though, most people drive to the mall since the surrounding roads are are not very pedestrian friendly.
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Enders Mall is one of Pretoria's oldest and smallest and has seen better days. Currently nearly half of the 2-story mall's 180 stalls sit empty while the remaining stalls house mostly discount retail shops. The mall is not in the most attractive location and has not been maintained very well. It hasn't been refurbished even once in its 40-year history. The mall's owners have not shown any interest in renovating the mall but have expressed some interest in selling the property.  Several industrial companies have expressed interest but the city has steadfastly refused so far to rezoned the land. Which would be necessary before any industrial facility can be built on the site(currently zoned for commercial use only). Parking for 300 vehicles is provided behind that mall and another 100 spots are available across Station Rd.
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Now let's backtrack down Grenadier Rd. all the way back to Middleton Rd.(and the nicer part of town :yes:)
Between Ruiko Drive and Grenadier Rd. we come across the Holy Trinity Church. Built in 1956, the church predates nearly all of the other buildings in the area by several decades.
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The head office of an insurance firm called GE Money is located on the north side of Grenadier Rd. GE money is Orchard Height's second largest employer with 715 workers.
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The other two corners of this intersection are occupied by a luxury auto dealership and a branch office for a major cell phone manufacturer.
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Further north is Dunstin Park. The park has an indoor & outdoor swimming pool, two softball fields(children sized) & three soccer fields underneath the Hardack hydro corridor.
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One of the larger of Dresden's water towers is located here as well, with a capacity of 1.8 million liters.
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Spoiler

For those wondering, It's actually not that usual for a soccer field(s) to be located under a power line. There's several fields like that where I live, eg;
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Reversing back down Grenadier Road, east of the Holy Trinity Church we come across an area with several smaller office buildings. Dresden's modern city hall is located here as well. It's the beige & white brick building with the green lawn on the upper right corner of the Grenadier Rd. & Ruiko Dr. intersection.
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Grenadier Rd. then passes underneath the 700
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Meets up with Michigan Rd.
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And finally runs underneath both rail lines before leaving Orchard Heights.
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That more or less covers all the notable places of interest in the Orchard Heights neighborhood. 
Now it's time to Cue the mosaics ;)

Wide angles

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Dresden GS looms large over the area.
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Long shots
View of Michigan Rd. & the rail lines from the train station to the Grenadier Rd. underpass.
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View of Middleton Rd. just north of Grenadier Rd. to the "Curveball" Interchange.
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View of the core from The Web to the Grenadier Rd. underpass.
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From the curveball to the Web. (Middleton Rd. to the left of the 700, Michigan Rd tn the right)
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Another angle of the above area.
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And lastly, from Cisco Bay to the train station...
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...and back.
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Takingyouthere

Over the past year I've rebuilt the entire highway network as it had previously had been almost entirely maxis-highway based. The hardest and most time consuming part of that process is rebuilding the major interchange between highways. Just when the rebuilding process was nearly done, the NAM team goes out and gives us NAM 33/34. Because of this I've had to rebuild several of the major interchanges, yet again. Thanks a lot NAM team... for being so DAMN AWESOME! :thumb::thumb::thumb: because building interchanges has always been one of the things I love the most about playing sim city 4.

RHW constructions can be a times frustrating but overall I enjoy the challenge of building an interchange in as compact of a space as physically possible while maintaining smooth curves and grades, I liken it to playing a logic game and probably nothing else I do in my day to day life makes me think as much I have to in order to 'solve' the problems that I encounter when building RHW interchanges(not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing :P)

Looper Junction was one of the more difficult rebuilds, because I had to join a diagonal highway with an orthogonal one in middle of a city on uneven land.

Spoiler

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The end result of the original RHW rebuild using NAM 32, shown in entry 20 and seen below, required me to create a custom piece in order to compete the vision of the interchange I had in mind.
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But as cool as that interchange looked, from a real word perspective it had numerous flaws most of which weren't correctable until the release of NAM 34. I did a minor rebuild with NAM 33 which was shown as part of entry 26 but I'll skip those changes here as they only correct a couple of the many flaws described below.

The main issues;
- 10 slow speed turns(numbered T1 to T10) that is a 90 degree turn within 2 spaces
4 slow speed merging on ramps
2 slow speed off ramps
3 hairpin turns
2 unnecessary ramps
- 1 weave zone
- and 1 very unrealistic tunnel


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One of the biggest issues was with what I called the "secret ramp" noted above as tunnel 2. The ramp runs underneath the entire interchange and connects the NB702 with the SB 700 which takes commuters into Downtown Dresden. A long tunnel built underneath an interchange like that is not realistic. I'm quite sure that if I didn't show what that tunnel was for it's purpose would not be clear. It looks more like it's connecting some other road from off the screen to the interchange then the ramp it actually serves. This ramps as well as the corresponding return ramp, where sharp turn 8 is located, were added to make the interchange fully accessible. That is you can connect to all possible routes going into the interchange from any direction. In the past I used to think more ramps are better and missing ramps makes an interchange incomplete. It's easy to think that way when building interchanges in a self contained perspective rather than observing the network as a whole. Turns out this ramp is completely unnecessary and actually an exercise in bad urban planning.

Sims in SC4 inherently only want to travel short distances to work, that is either within the same city or travel to the next city tile, it's rare to see them go further than that. This is why I originally designed the RHW highway network with multiple options to travel to the same location. Most of the sim's in the city want to travel downtown for work, where the densest concentration of commercial jobs are. But the amount of jobs available within the next two large tiles amounts to 20 times the number available in Dresden. In real life commutes of 20, 30 or more kilometers are quite common and most sims in Dresden should be traveling further north to Central Pretoria for work. I've been redesigning the highway network with that in mind, which means curtailing the number of interchanges and eliminating duplicate ramps.

There already are two highway exits off of the northbound 702 connecting to high capacity roads(avenues) that can take commuters coming from areas south of Dresden into the downtown area.
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Sims traveling from the neighborhood of Valhalla Park would reach downtown via Genosha Blvd. while those traveling from Woodside would likely be split between Esna Parkway & other local roads. The larger concern is for those coming from points south of Dresden the population of which is 3 times as much. They would likely be split between the two existing exits. From the city boarder the Esna park route is 2.6km and has 7 intersections, while the Genosha Blvd route is 3.1km with only 2 intersections before arriving at downtown Dresden. Considering the above, a third ramp at Looper Junction to route traffic to the same location for the population catchment area is completely unnecessary. Especially so when as mentioned above, most sims from these area should continue down the 702 towards Central Pretoria.

The elimination of this ramp(NB 702 to SB 700) and the corresponding ramp going in the opposite direction(NB 700 to SB 702) eliminates the unrealistic tunnel, a short merging ramp and one tight turn. 

This also eliminated the the weave zone. A weave zone is as an area where the highway entrance and exit use the same lane and the entrance and exit are quite close together. These areas require caution and cooperation because vehicles share the same lane to slow to exit the highway while other vehicles are using it to increase speed to enter the highway. Planners try to avoid building modern interchanges with weave zones. The other big change was courtesy of the new NAM. Thanks to the improved flex fly pieces, 8 of the other 9 tight curves were eliminated as were all the slow speed merging on ramps. While I didn't have the space to build full acceleration/merging lanes, the curve were smoothed out allowing vehicles to at least enter the highway at speed. Vehicles in the right lane are still expected to slow down for and yield to these vehicles if necessary or otherwise face being fined. Also drivers in Pretoria are thoroughly trained to use the proper techniques in these types of circumstances ;)

One of the 3 hairpin turns was taken out(#3) while the other two remained as is(#1 & #2). There just wasn't enough space to replace theses with any other type of ramp but aside from that I like how they look, they're part of what gives Looper Junction it's name.

the end results of the NAM 34 rebuild:
slow speed turns - 10 before / 1 after
slow speed merging on ramps - 4 before / 0 after
slow speed off ramps - 2 before / 0 after
hairpin turns - 3 before / 2 after
weave zones - 1 before / 0 after

Time for some screens,
Looper Junction now has a 3-level stack.
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The level 2 ramp is the SB702 ramp to downtown Dresden via Baker St. The parking lot next to it is the overflow lot for Lacross Stadium, cars enter & exit the lot underneath the ramp.
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The southern terminus of the 700 before it turns into Esna Blvd. and downtown Dresden. The highway grounds are keep clear of weeds and well manicured in this section to give the core a clean image and attract business.
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These are the new higher speed on & off ramps from the 702
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The NB 702 to EB 700 ramp runs below
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extensive mmp work also helps to make the interchange look more realistic, also much improved from the previous version.
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The hairpin curve on the WB700 to NB702 ramp remains...
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...but the entry curve onto the 702 has been smoothed out allowing vehicles to accelerate and enter the 702 at a decent rate of speed.
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Where's a weed wacker when you need one?
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Tunnel entrance
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The three curves section
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One purely aesthetic feature was added inside the interchange...
Dresden's new city council wanted to beautify the appearance of the interchange and so they added what they called the "A Tribute to World Peace". Really it's just some manicured bushes & weeds made to look like a large peace sign. Though at 240 feet in diameter it's said to be the largest peace sign in the world.
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Peace & weed's
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Now let's see what she looks like in her entirety

looking South central section - day
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looking north central section - night
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looking south, entire area - night
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looking north, entire area - day
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looking west - night
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looking east - day
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A couple of higher resolution cuts below. You have to save the image if you want to see the finer details as you can't really see them on ST
looking south - day
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looking north - night
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I'd like to say this will be that last time Looper Junction will be rebuilt, but you just never know what the NAM team has in store for us next.

Takingyouthere

This entry will deal with infrastructure related facilities located in Dresden.

City Overview (looking north)
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1 - D.M Peters Water Treatment Plant
Posthumously named after a former mayor of Dresden who authorized the construction of this facility. This medium sized facility is the only water treatment plant located in the South Shore borough. It provides water to Dresden's 102,000 residents plus an additional 25,000 residents from several adjacent towns. The plant was constructed in 1951 replacing a smaller plant located near the port. The facility is municipally owned and operated.

Built on a man made peninsula in the south west quadrant of the city, the D.M. Peters WT facility does not require advanced filtration methods due to the Medina's Ocean's west coast current which travels south to north. There are no major industrial facilities located south of Dresden.
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Water is first pumped into the facility via an 1.2m intake pipe which draws water directly from the Median Ocean the inlet for which is located 2.5km's off shore. Water need not be desalinated because all of planet Azura's ocean's are freshwater! :D Sentiment and microorganisms are mechanically separated first in a small sedimentation basin and then the water is passed through rapid sand filters(both system inside the building). Afterwards the water is disinfected with chloramine(storage tanks located outside), which is longer lasting and safer than chlorine. Water is then finally pumped into the municipal water system. Additionally there are a dozen water towers located throughout the city(including the one seen here) which have a total storage capacity of 55,000 about enough for about one days worth of water usage.
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The plant is 0.7 hectares in size and the average daily water production/consumption is 62,280 cubic meters per day. This is the consumption of Dresden and is surprisingly accurate to what a city of 125,000 people would use in the real world - seems maxis got that right at least. The plant may look small but it's more or less realistic in size for it's actual production. In comparison the city of Toronto's largest filtration plant is the RC Harris water treatment plant. That plant is able to produce 1,000,000 cubic liters of water per day and is located on only 7 hectares of land. Yet it supplies 45% of Toronto's(2.6 million people) water requirements.

Currently the Dresden's water system is self contained. An interconnection to Central Pretoria's much larger system is current being built under Cisco Bay in case of contingencies but won't be completed until 2020.


2 - South Shore Sewage Treatment Plant
This medium sized facility is likewise the only wastewater treatment plant located in the South Shore borough. The plant is located in the north west quadrant of the city squeezed in between highway 700 and the Medina Ocean and was constructed in 1970. The facility is municipally owned and operated.
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Prior to this raw sewage was simply pumped into the Medina Ocean without treatment. At first this was not a significant problem as Dresden was small in size and the strong ocean currents quickly diluted the effluent. But as the city expanded so did the amount of crap that it expelled. By the 60's beaches in Central Pretoria(down current) were closed over 90% of the time due to high bacteria counts. This lead to the construction of several sewage treatment plants across the region.

This facility treats water from the same catchment area as the water treatment plant(pop. 127,000). Surface runoff is not treated in Dresden. The facility has clarifiers, sedimentation & biochemical oxidation ponds and a small bio sludge incinerator. New pollution regulations which came into effect in the late 80's necessitated either the installation of advanced scrubber technology or a taller stack. This facility has a 'two in one' system. The 378ft/115m tall stack has advanced chemical reactors built directly into it(hence it's high tech appearance) to treat and capture dioxins, furans and other toxins released during the bio sludge incineration process.
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3 - Cisco Bay Bridge(approach)
Major bridges and tunnels can also be considered as vital pieces of infrastructure. Here lays the southern approach to the Cisco Bay Bridge, the longest bridge in the nation. The main span of the bridge is located one city to the north. I'm hoping that one day someone might gift us with an elevated RHW bridge as for now we only have the maxis bridge option. Elevated RHW is used to provide the require clearance height(180ft/55m) for large ocean going vessels to navigate underneath the bridge and access both the Port of Pretoria & the Port of Dresden.
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The railway line to the south is GWR's Portland subdivision, it enters into the Vandenburg tunnel in the next city over. Also(can't see it visually) the Fastraxx L & ME commuter rail lines run underneath the roadway deck.

The highway is heavy congested in the rush hour carrying up 18,202 vehicles during it's peak (7AM-8AM).
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4 - Port of Dresden
A medium sized cargo port, but not a container port. I'll cover this facility in one final transportation related entry still to come(rails & ships).
You can see it's general layout from the overview.

5 - The RoS(Ring of Steel)
Already covered extensively in entry 21 you should check it out if you haven't already!
This is the central telecommunications hub for the South Shore.
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Recently I switched rock textures. Unfortunately the new textures(greyish) don't mesh well with the mmp's(brownish) that I used here. I will have to come back and redo the screen slope later on.

6 - Biohazard Incorporated's Plasma Waste Gasification Plant
Here comes the controversy.

Located in the community of Vallyrun near the south east quadrant of the city, this facility uses the Plasma Gasification process to vaporize waste material converting organic matter into synthetic gas which is comprised mostly of Hydrogen, CO & CO2. The resulting syngas can be used to produce electricity directly but at this facility it is simply stored onsite and then transported(no power generation). This facility is privately owned and operated and is located beside to GWR's Farham rail subdivision.

Plasma gasification is much cleaner and environmentally friendly in comparison to traditional waste disposal methods. Cities across the world are now adopting the process to eliminate the huge costs and environmental issues of large incineration plants and landfills. New technologies and innovations have greatly reduced the operating costs of the process. However this facilities construction was highly controversial. Although the site is zoned for industrial use and had previously been occupied by an asbestos plant which that was shut down after sale of the product was banned nationwide, the neighborhood is generally residential in nature. Local residents were hoping that a more benign industrial facility would be built here. When it was publicly announced in 2005 that Dresden city council had approved a waste processing plant it was meet with immediate protest. Residents did not believe that the process was as environmental friendly as the government hired experts claimed. Most agreed that if a waste processing plant was to be built in the city it should be built in Industrial Sector G near the port where another waste incinerator is already located. Unfortunately there were no available undeveloped sites large enough remaining in industrial Sector D to house such a facility. Many local residents started picketing the site as soon as construction was started. So they were preventing equipment and workers from entering the site. As a result construction was temporarily halted while extensive public consultations were initiated. The NIMBY's, as city council called them would not relent no matter what assurances they were given. Eventually the PRGA(Pretoria Regional Governing Authority) took over jurisdiction in the matter from Dresden's city council. PRGA's first move was to rezoned part of the site for a police station. The neighborhood had been requesting one few many years now. Though ironically this proved to be somewhat of a double edged sword as once construction on the gasification plant was restarted the DPD(Dresden Police Department) were under strict orders to enforce the law on site. Anyone who even loitered on the sidewalk next to the site for more than 5 minutes was promptly arrested for trespassing. Civil rights advocates were up in arms but ultimately there was little that they could do to stop such occurrences from happen especially after they were arrest and detained as well. The PRGA later stepped in again and all charges were withdrawn. The PRGA took several other steps to mitigate the controversy prior to the facilities construction. To placate the public the facility was extensively redesigned.

Original site design
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One of Biohazard Inc. (BHI for short) main goals in the original concept for the site was for increased storage capacity of both garbage and syngas. This would reduce transportation costs and allow for the company to transport "goods" only at the most economical time. Two massive storage tanks were to be located on the north east corner of the site,. These tank could store up to 3,000 cubic meters of syngas. This represented 150 days at maximum production rates. One liter of syngas contains approximately half the energy of LPG(26 MJ/L). Meaning these spheres when full would contain the energy equivalent of 39 Terajoule each. This is equal to 9 kilotons of TNT! Of course energy is released far more slowly and inefficiently in a chemical reaction when compared to nuclear reactions by several orders of magnitude. Still the resulting worse case scenario was modeled by the PRGA. Should a BLEVE(which of course is an acronym for Big Loud Explosion Very Exciting... :no:) occur in in just one of the tanks the resulting explosion would be equivalent to the detonation of 45 tons of TNT devastating the community. The model predicted a death toll of 281.
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This was obviously unacceptable. And so are my photoshopping skills at the moment, I'll work on that...

The PRGA mandated that BHI to draw up a new site plan with far stricter regulations than Dresden's municipal council had originally approved. The maximum amount of syngas that could be store on site was reduce from 6,000 cubic meters to a mere 600 - 15 days production. 6 smaller 50,000 liter tanks were approved of for use and relocated to the south side of the site furthest away from residential areas. Should any of these tanks BLEVE(short for Blast Leveling Everything Very Effectively...?  :no::no::no:) the resulting casualty count was calculated to be zero this time. A flare stack was also required to be install in order to flare off excessive syngas production when storage inventories were high and in case of pressure spikes in the containment vessels. Several years latter once the PRGA was no longer directly involve in the approvals process, BHI seeked approval for and was granted permission to install an additional 300,000 litter storage tank. Technically this was allowable under the revised permit. But it was located in an underground tank on the north side of the site, something that would likely not have been approved of at an earlier date because of its closer proximity to residential buildings just north of the plant.

Another one of the communities major concerns was the large open landfill storage area. Again the PRGA rescinded Dresden's permits for such. Instead the PRGA required that all waste the facility received would be either dumped into the processor or otherwise stored onsite in sealed plastic or steel containers. There were addional concerns over the increased noise and air pollution that would result from garbage and syngas transport trucks traveling through the community to and from the facility. As a measure of good faith BHI cancelled their syngas transportation contract with a trucking company, though they likely would not have done so had the contact guarantees kicked in already. And instead signed a contact with the GWR to build a rail spur off the Farham sub to transport syngas from the facility by rail. While the up front construction costs of the rail fueling spur significantly added to the projects capital budget, the long term transportation contract was much cheaper. Note; BHI applied for and were granted an interest free loan from Dresden's city council for construction of the spur. When this matter came to light several years later it was highly controversial. An independent inquiry is currently underway to determined if any untoward activity occurred during the process(i.e. bribes :no:).
As a result of these changes, this is how the plant now looks;
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Dresden city council made a small good will measure of their own by construction a pedestrian bridge over the west part of the site. This however did not prevent 80% of the council from being booted out in the following election. As they say, payback's a *****! :lol:

7 - Bunsenburner Waste to Energy Incinerator(aka 'The Nasty')
This facility is located on Pier 18 in Industrial sector D. It is the largest waste incinerator in the region. An average of 3300 tons of garbage is burned on a daily basis here accounting for nearly 25% of regions garbage production. Nearby residents have taken to calling it "The Nasty" for the obvious reasons. The plant is municipally owned but privately operated.

Phases one & two were completed in 1973 & 74, each of which can burn up to 550 tons of trash a day with a nameplate capacity of 124MW combined. Phases three was completed in 1988 adding 2200 tones of garbage burning capacity and 248MW of power prodcution. Trash is routed by trucks directly into the large white building which contains a large internal storage area. Phase 3 has a single 480ft/146m tall multi flue smokestack which is in compliance with the federal pollution standards. Phases 1 & 2 receive trash mostly by train of a small spur that branches from GWR's Almera sub. The two units have four 266ft/81m tall stacks which are not in complacence with federal pollution standards. More advance pollution controls and/or taller stacks are required to comply with these regulation. Advance pollution controls are of course preferable since they actually reduce harmful emissions, but taller stacks are acceptable as they deposit pollution further up wind (into either the nearby mountain ranges or the Medina ocean) and away from populated areas. Because this is considered a vital government owned facility(landfills are banned in the region) it has been granted a waiver to continue operating, though only for a limited amount of hours per year - 2,200. This wavier has a term of 5 years with the expectation that more advanced controls will be installed at the end of the term. The current waiver has been extended twice already... :no:
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Inside The Nasty
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The maximum power production of the plant at full burn is 372 MW which is routed through the Hardack hydro corridor to central Pretoria.
Below is the interconnection to the grid.
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You'll notice Elemental Research's 'T2' laboratory was recently built next to the incinerator. This land was previously used as a landfill before phase 3 was built.
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8 - Dresden Generating Station
Also previously covered, extensively I might add in entry's 22 and 23. I have made a few minor improvements since then though.

The circuit breakers through which power is routing from Dresden GS's switch yard onto the Hardack hydro corridor has been upgraded. A recent study indicated that the electrical grid, specifically the main transformers located in the switch yard at Dresden GS, were highly vulnerable to damage from EMP's. Any interruption to this line would leave 1.2 million people, or about half the population of Pretoria without power for an extended period of time. Needless to say would be quite devastating.

Unlike in the real world(:no:) measures were immediately taken to upgrade the system with a new advanced circuit breaker and disconnected seen below
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Water textures defects previously seen have been corrected and other textures i.e. parking have been updated.
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Here's a couple of updated overhead shots of the facility as it stands today.
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As usual here's a couple of mosaic shots to close out the entry.
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That's it for the infrastructure. Dresden truly is the work horse of the region.
 

Takingyouthere

Industrial sector G is one of 5 large industrial areas built in Pretoria. More than 90% of Dresden's industry is located here and it employs 12,061 people.

The map below shows the juxtaposition of each sectors within the region.
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As seen in entry's 22 & 23, the region's largest power plant is located in this sector. A medium sized traditional port with only a small intermodal facility is also located adjacent to the south shore of Cisco Bay. This entry however will focus on the industrial zone located between the port and downtown Dresden.

Industrial Sector G overview - not including the Port(beyond the upper left) & Power Plant(beyond the upper right)
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I'll be taking what I think is a unique approach in this entry. Instead of just showing random locations I'll preview each industrial facility one-by-one in order of the largest employee base - so as to better help you find suitable employment of course! :)  The employee count is the total amount of sims that actually travel to the building in question for work. 


Dresden's 25 largest industrial employers (not including government or infrastructure related facilities)

1
Company -
Gusslov Pipelines Inc.
Business Type - Pipe Mill
Address - 80 Portland Rd.
Total Employees - 1,472  Dresden's largest private industrial employer
Job Satisfaction - 3/5
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2
Company -
Golden Dragon Sorting Facility
Business Type - Freight and Parcel Processing
Address - 192 Pincer St.
Total Employees - 1,150
Job Satisfaction -
3.5/5
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3
Company - Rand Textiles
Business Type - Textile Manufacturing
Address - 1,2 & 4 Textile Place
Total Employees - 611 (all three buildings)
Job Satisfaction - 3/5
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4
Company - Mondi Paper Products
Business Type - Pulp & Paper, Forest Products
Address - 15 Connection St.
Total Employees - 606 
Job Satisfaction -
4/5
Aside from the power plant this my 2nd favorite industrial facility in the city.
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5
Company - Backstien Industries
Business Type - Industrial Machinery
Address - 52 Edison Rd.
Total Employees - 562
Job Satisfaction -
4/5
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6
Company - Simland Food's
Business Type - Food and Beverage Distribution 
Address - 12 Pincer St.
Total Employees - 548
Job Satisfaction -
3.5/5
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7
Company - Longfellow's Inc.
Business Type - Heavy Equipment(forklifts)
Address - 125 Genosha Blvd.
Total Employees - 457
Job Satisfaction -
4.5/5
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8
Company - Elemental Technologies
Business Type - Research & Development(classified)
Address - 19 Rubbish St.
Total Employees - 451
Job Satisfaction -
unknown(classified)
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9

Company - Hapag-Lloyd Logistic Center
Business Type - Consumer goods distribution
Address - 10 Comex Drive
Total Employees - 404
Job Satisfaction -
4/5
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10 & 13
Company - Acme Boiler Co. & Diag Inc.
Business Type - Boiler Makers & multiple
Address - 69 & 71 Edison Rd.
Total Employees - 396 & 323
Job Satisfaction -
2/5 & 3.5/5
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11

Company - Mill Street Brewery
Business Type - Brewing 
Address - 45 & 47 Portland Rd.
Total Employees - 349
Job Satisfaction -
5/5
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12
Company - Gratiot Motors
Business Type - Automotive Components
Address - 28 Edison Rd.
Total Employees - 328
Job Satisfaction -
4.5/5
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14
Company - Coca-cola Bottling
Business Type - Beverage Maker
Address - 1 Coke St.
Total Employees - 318
Job Satisfaction -
4.5/5
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15
Company - Larkin Admin.
Business Type - Computer Software
Address - 60 Portland Rd.
Total Employees - 310
Job Satisfaction -
4/5
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16
Company - Gleaners Industrial Supplies
Business Type - Industrial Products
Address - 49 Edison Rd.
Total Employees - 288
Job Satisfaction -
3.5/5
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17

Company - Organ Works Inc.
Business Type - Corn Wet Milling
Address - 13 Qzar St.
Total Employees - 285
Job Satisfaction -
3/5
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18

Company - GWR Packaging
Business Type - Freight Distribution
Address - 1 Pincer St.
Total Employees - 276
Job Satisfaction -
2.5/5
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19
Company - Lafarge Cement
Business Type - Concrete Batching plant
Address - 11 Solpadenie St.
Total Employees - 274
Job Satisfaction -
3/5
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20
Company - Unidek Ltd.
Business Type - Thermal Insulation manufacturing & distribution
Address - 55 Portland Rd.
Total Employees - 263
Job Satisfaction -
3.5/5
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21
Company - Piglatin Clays Ltd.
Business Type - Kaolin Processing
Address - 10 Solpadenie St.
Total Employees - 253
Job Satisfaction -
2.5/5
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22
Company - Vestor Acetone
Business Type - Chemical Manufacturing
Address - 9 Edison St.
Total Employees - 176
Job Satisfaction -
1/5
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24
Company - Jack Wild Conductors
Business Type - Semiconductors
Address - 145 Genosha Blvd.
Total Employees - 172
Job Satisfaction -
4.5/5
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25
Company - Sovereign Distribution
Business Type - Freight Distribution
Address - 28 & 30 Power Ave.
Total Employees - 166
Job Satisfaction -
3/5
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That concludes the top 25 list. But even if you are not successful in your job application(s) with any of those companies there are still dozens of other potential employer who may want to hire you, so keep at 'er. Of course, if you actually have some big bucks in your pocket already and don't need to look for a menial job why not buy a property instead?

This lot at 61 Pincer St. is now available after a company by the name of dead paper products literally went dead.
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The factory was demolished 2 years ago and the lot has remained empty ever since, just waiting for a willing buyer to come along and redevelop it. So why not take a chance? ;)  Granted it's located near a lot of nasty chemical manufactures, boxed in by a busy freight rail corridor and built on uneven ground but don't let that deter you!
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To conclude this already ridiculously long entry here's a couple mosaic shots for the road.
M1
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M2
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M3
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Takingyouthere

Continuing on from where I left off last week, we'll now go for a drive southbound on highway 702 from Looper Juction(C) to the city border.

But first a short discussion about the numerous safety features commonly seen on 700-series highways in Pretoria;
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Noise abatement walls in urban areas of the metropolis are a common sight. These walls are between 5m(lubu style) and 6m high. I created a new wall set as in time for this entry as the lubu style was admittedly getting a little repetitive in the city. 700-series highways come equipped with either steel flex beam guardrails or concrete mediums to prevent crossover accidents. High mast lighting is standard in interchange areas. This type of lighting is more energy efficient and not as maintenance intensive as common street lighting. It's also very common in the city where I live(Toronto). Interchange areas are also generally cleared of possible obstructions such as trees for increased safety in instances where a vehicle may leave the roadway i.e during an accident.
 

System Overview
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A - "The Curveball"
B - "The Web"
C - "Looper Junction" 
D - "Z-Change"
E - Underpass Rd./702 Interchange
F - Esna Parkway Interchange/702 Interchange



Soon after merging onto the 702 the highway goes into a short tunnel. This tunnel takes the highway under the L & SS Fastraxx commuter lines at the point where they diverge.
Commuter service on the L line(top) is bi-direction while service on the SS line(bottom) is rush hour only as can be seen from the Morning rush hour commuter paths.
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Bi-directional long distance trains actually do run on the SS line but it's not shown in the paths since as we all know simcity only cares for rush hour traffic :P

The highway then curves southward
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This is a vital transportation corridor for the region which includes one of the two southbound freight lines and the only major highway & passenger rail line that continues southward to the remainder of the south shore borough and locations beyond.
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And that brings us to;
D - The "Z-Change"
The Z-Change is an interchange between highway 702 and Genosha Boulevard which is one of the main thoroughfares of the city.
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Spoilers for the unrecognizable before version

Spoiler

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close ups
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The primary component to this interchanges functionality is this little piece right here;
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I'm not quite sure if traffic is doing anything wonky in there but it more or less works as intended.
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It was pretty easy to come up with a name for this one, any way you look at it the Z is quite evident
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My favorite thing about this interchange is actually just watching the traffic flow through it. It's somewhat mesmerizing. A gif of the traffic flow is not quite the same, but here's a few in any case;
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usage
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total vehicle count north of the interchange: 9,123
total vehicle count south of the interchange: 3,450

Pano shots
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Can you spot the one change above?

Ministry of Transportation internal report
Safety rating - 3.5/5
Both on-ramp merge at fractional angles sans merging lane. Again not ideal but not terrible. It's the best option I had available as theres a rail viaduct which runs over the highway near by. Even the awesomeness that is NAM 34 does not allow for rail viaducts to pass over a diagonal 3 lane RHW piece or even a diagonal 2 lane RHW highway - but there is a workaround for the latter. Additional half point given for the safety features mention in the intro. :yes:

Capacity rating(in relation to local congestion) - 4/5
On and off ramps are single lane only, however the off ramp from NB 702 has it own bridge and merges into Genosha Blvd in a new lane and does so without having to go through a single stop light. This extended ramp always traffic to exit the freeway at a greater speed and it's extended length prevents backups from forming. Likewise the opposite ramp is treated the same. This was necessary because these ramps lead to downtown Dresden and with this new higher capacity design I was able to remove a couple of redundant ramps at Looper Junction and streamline it's design.

Design rating - 4.5/5
This rating is not to be confused with how good I think it is but rather it's how original/unique of a design it is. As explained and seen in the images above, there is an interesting little quirk in this interchanges design.

Overall Grade - 12/15 Highway 702 exit 102 (aka "The Z-Change")
The highest score of the 6 interchanges in the city!


There was one major problem with the redesign/rebuilt of this interchange. The addition of new highway ramps and bridges may have made it far easier for vehicles to get around but at the same time it became much more difficult for pedestrians. There's little chance they're going to be able to safety cross the highway now on that overpass now. With this in mind a new pedestrian route had to be created otherwise the small pocket of development to the right of(east of) the 702 would be completely isolated between the highway and a rail corridor.
At first I tried to build a pedestrian bridge, which is hard enough trying to accomplish over a RHW though there are few ploppable options. But there's a lot of grade changes in city including this location. It made it difficult to work with so a pedestrian tunnel was built instead under the 702.
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A bridge was built on the other side though, here's a teaser;
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I'll take a closer look at this bridge and where it leads to among other things next time.


E - Underpass Rd/Highway 702
About 0.75 kilometers southwest of the Z-Change is the next interchange on highway 702. This interchange is much more conventional.
Then again not every interchange has to be big and sprawling or an elaborate design. Sometimes we one can lose sight of what's really important in the real world and that is integrating interchanges into the community as well as physically possible. This interchanges small footprint and landscaping does just that, preserving the integrity of the community while fitting into a tight spot beside an important rail corridor.

Click on the spoiler below only if you really want to see what things look liked before I switched over to the RHW.

Spoiler

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The interchange as it is today
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looking north
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looking west
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looking east
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looking south
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usage
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total vehicle count north of the interchange: 3,450
total vehicle count south of the interchange: 839

Ministry of Transportation internal report
Safety rating - 4/5
All on & off ramps have merging lanes, though they don't get full marks as they're a little on the short side(due to space constraints).

Capacity rating(relative to local traffic) - 5/5
On and off ramps are initially single laned but a second lane is added as the on off ramps approach the intersection with the road below, giving this interchange more then enough capacity to deal with local traffic conditions.

Design rating(grade for the interchange only not the area around it) - 2/5
Your typical orthogonal interchange with a minimal foot point. One additional point given for the added interest created by the railways.

Final Grade - 11/15 Highway 702 exit 104


There used to be a small interchange just south of this one. It was one of three additional interchanges in the city that were deemed superfluous and subsequently removed. It's just not realistic to have interchanges every half a kilometer.

Spoiler

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This location today
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F - Esna Parkway/Highway 702
A generic interchange located 1.25km south of Underpass at the edge of the city map. Esna parkway is the alternate route to downtown Dresden for traffic originating from points further south. Not much to see here, still need to do some work to improve the surrounding area as well.

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Maxis vers.

Spoiler

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Ministry of Transportation internal report
Safety rating - 2/5
Your minimal Project Symphony interchange. Of course its still better than your basic maxis interchange which would be a 1/5.

Capacity rating(relative to local traffic) - 2/5
On and off ramps are single laned with no merging lane. Esna parkway is not heavily used at this point, otherwise it would be a 1/5.

Design rating - 1/5
An even simpler orthogonal interchange with a minimal foot point. This is more or less as basic as a RHW/Project Symphony interchange can get.

Final Grade - 5/15 Highway 702 exit 104


bonus mosaic
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And that concludes the tour of the city's highway network.
There's still the rail system to deal with but the next update won't be transportation based. I'll be switching things up a bit instead.

Takingyouthere

To help reorient where we are, here's a quick look at the southern portion of the regional transportation map:et7B9P0.png

Dresden is the large size map at the southern most part of the region. The metro area extends further south and I might add that area to the region in the future, though it's largely suburbia south of here.

The Highway System in Dresden
Dresden is served by two 700-series expressways, highways - 700 and 702(4 to 6 lane RHW). These are the two primary north to south highways in the region, they cross or merge three times. The two highways connect in a very unusual interchange called Looper Junction which was covered in entry 21(note: this interchange is currently undergoing refurbishment yet again! :)) In addition to Looper Junction there are 5 other interchanges in the city.

Highway 700 comes into the city from the North East corner beyond which is Cisco Bay(the city) & Lindin City.  It loops back west to Calgon via Spaghetti Junction. The southern terminus of highway 700 is located is just south of Looper Junction in downtown Dresden.

Highway 702 meanwhile enters Dresden by crossing directly over Cisco Bay(the waterbody) from Calgon. This is the short route to Central Pretoria but actually takes much longer as it's heavily congested. Capacity is limited by the 4 lane Cisco-Bay bridge. This highway runs north to south through Dresden and continues on southward for another 50km.

There are also three other secondary highways (2 lane RWH) which connect Dresden to less populated areas outside of the city limits. Currently they are lightly used.

System Overview:
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A - "The Curveball"
B - "The Web"
C - "Looper Junction" 
D - "Z-Change"
E - Underpass Rd./702 Interchange
F - Esna Parkway/702 Interchange

 
Batter up! First up is,

A - The Curveball
The Curveball is an interchange between highway 700 and several local roads in north eastern part of the city serving the neighborhood of Gonzaga. I like to think its rather obvious as to how it got its name;
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close ups
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traffic flow gif
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usage
total vehicle count east of the interchange: 1,266
total vehicle count west of the interchange: 3,833
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Pano shots
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If your curious below is what the area and interchange looked like before being converted to the RHW standard(about 18 months ago). However click at your own risk however...  she anit purdy. :P 

Spoiler


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Ministry of Transportation internal report
Safety rating - 4/5
The westbound on ramp merges into highway 700 in a new lane that continues all the way until the next interchange 1.5 km away! Allowing vehicles to safely enter the highway without concerns for merging. The eastbound on ramp merges directly at a fractional angle, no merging lane. Not ideal but not terrible either.

Capacity rating(in relation to local congestion) - 4/5
On and off ramps are single lane only, which is more than sufficient for local traffic in the neighborhood of Gonzaga as it is entirely suburban and not very large in size. On and off ramps are moderate in length.

Design rating - 3.5/5
This rating is not to be confused with how good I think it is but rather it's how original/unique of a design it is. Makes use of fractionally angled ramps, flex fly, additional bridge structure. It's nothing amazing but it is somewhat atypical and has a nice 'flow' to it. Agree or disagree? :) 

Final Grade - 11.5/15 Highway 702 exit 27 (aka "The Curveball")


Next up,
B - The Web
About 1.5 kilometers southwest of The Curveball is the next interchange on highway 700, locally referred to as The Web. The Web located in the neighborhood of Orchard Heights parts of which were seen in the last entry. It's actually comprised of two interchanges combined into one, one fully accessible and another partially, this however results in a design flaw. Traffic counts start to get quite heavy here heading towards highway 700 and downtown Dresden. .

Click on the spoiler if you'd like to see the "before" version.

Spoiler

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Spoiler

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The current version
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traffic flow gifs
http://imgur.com/eVu6EgN
http://imgur.com/gYHLLE5

usage
total vehicle count eastward: 3,833
total vehicle count southwest to/from Looper Junction: 12,632
total vehicle count westward to/from westward Portlands Rd: 4,555
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the evening rush hour counts are even higher
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the eastern part is relatively generic, but I really like how the western portion came out(off/on ramps to/from Portland Rd.)
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in the evening
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Ministry of Transportation internal report
Safety rating - 2/5
2 of 4 on ramps have extended merging  lanes. For the other two on ramps vehicles enter onto the highway near an off ramp(s). I'd like to reconstruct the eastern portion of the interchange, but there're limited options available at the present time to make what I have in mind come to fruition.  What I would love to see is a diagonal flex fly high transition, here's hoping that is something this is actually possible.

Capacity rating(in relation to local congestion) - 2/5
On and off ramps are single lane only, moderately sufficient for local traffic flows. However lack of a merging lane causes significant congestion.

Design rating - 4/5
Eastern portion is generic. However the western portion features an innovative means of redirecting local traffic from using the highway.

Final Grade - 9/15 Highway 702 exit 29/30 (aka "The Web")


C - Looper Junction
Looper Junction is 1.25 km southwest of the The Web and was originally covered in entry 21. . It's the only major interchange in Dresden between two 700-series highways(700 & 702). However it is current being reconstruction(yet again!). All I can say is that there will be some major design improvements, stay tuned. :D
For the record, prior to it's reconstruction this was it's last appearance(as seen in the NAM challenge album), usage and internal grade. 
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Highway 700 terminates just south of Looper junction in downtown Dresden seen in entry
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usage
total vehicle count WB 700: 12,632
total vehicle count SB 700: 7,755
total vehicle count NB 702: 17,988
total vehicle count SB 702: 9,128
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Ministry of Transportation internal report
Safety rating - 1/5
While this interchange is to be commend for being quite unique in design, it does present some serious safety concerns in it's current form. Only 1 of 6 on ramps has a merging/acceleration lane and the one that does creates another problem in the form of weaving.

Capacity rating(in relation to local congestion) - 1/5
All on and off ramps are single lane only, which is not sufficient for the heavy rush hour traffic flows seen above. There are also 9 tight/hairpin turns, which is actually a reduction of 2 from 11 when first built. These tight turns significantly reduce vehicle speeds and further congest the interchange. (The up coming version will eliminate nearly all these!)

Design rating - 5/5
Looper Junction has a strange beauty to it. It's not ascetically pleasing in the traditional sense, yet there is something eye catching about it. But more importantly(and more relevant to the score) it's construction was an innovative breakthrough in managing to connect two highways at an otherwise nearly impossible to connect angle.

Final Grade - 7/15(quite harsh!) Highway 700-702 Interchange southern connection (aka Looper Junction) -


Originally I intended to cover all the the cites interchanges in this one entry, but 30 images later(mostly mosaics too) and I'm only half way done. Plus it's getting late and it's probably a good idea that I get some sleep before workFor the next update we'll switch highways and jump on the 702 continuing southbound through the remainder of Dresden.

Takingyouthere

As seen from the last entry, my CJ can be quite heavy on the dialog at times. Not that I think that's a bad thing, but it's good to take a break sometimes. Also while the focus of the CJ is on infrastructure and transportation, that is not all that encompasses Pretoria :)

Dresden has probably the largest suburban population of any of my cities. Here's some views of those suburbs up close, specifically the neighborhood of Orchard Heights;
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One of my favorite parts of the suburbs is where the Hardack hydro corridor cuts through it;
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A glimpse of some of the highway and railway interchanges across the city;
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And lastly moving on to my favorite suburban area of the city.
The community of Woodside is located in southwestern Dresden and the part I like most is the very center of it where 3 rail corridors and  highway 702 squeeze through;
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As you can tell there's been a noticeable lack of weed trimming along the joint South Shore-Farham rail corridor. Only small spots are trimmed by the highway light towers to maintain access to them.
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Here we catch Hallmarks high-speed regional train speeding southbound through the area at 265kph towards Cape Cardinal on Fastraxx's South Shore line.
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A teaser for some of the next entries which will deal with Industry and Transportation;
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I haven't decided yet, though it'll probably come down to which one I complete first :)

Takingyouthere

This entry is quite different then my usual updates. I'm not completely finished with Dresden, but I figured now might be a good time to take a little break from city focused entries. It's been a long while since I made an E2 entry, the last(and first) one I made was over 9 months ago.

E2 is short for Encyclopedic Entry and it is a comprehensive analysis/overview of one specific system covering the entire region.
Today's E2 will focus on the  commuter rail network of Pretoria, named Fastraxx. Since I work in the rail industry this entry will be very elaborate and will reference many industry specific terms with an extensive amount of dialog. If that's not your cup of tea I would suggest skipping to the "Synopsis of the Fastraxx system" about half way down the page which hopefully will be interesting to all :)

History
The Fastraxx network was established by the Pretoria Regional Governing Authority(PRGA) in 1969 shortly after and in compliance with the Rail Safety Compliance Act(RSCA) of 1967. The RSCA was an act of parliament/congress passed into law on July 17, 1967. The act banned passenger trains from operating on any line where freight trains operated on. The act was in response to the Continental 51 disaster, where a commuter train speed collided into a stalled freight train which resulted in 156 fatalities(5 crew, 151 passengers) as well as several other less deadly but increasingly frequent incidents leading up to it. Think Chatsworth 2008(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2008_Chatsworth_train_collision), which lead to the U.S. Rail Safety Improvement Act of 2008 mandating PTC on all lines, except PTC didn't exist in Pretoria back in 1967, so this was the nation of Albion's solution. The RSCA had 5 year deadline date of July 16, 1972 for complete separation. Unlike the U.S. Rail Safety Improvement Act, no delays would be accepted. If a the passenger rail service was not running on a rail line with no freight trains, then it would not run at all! The only exception being non-revenue passenger equipment trains(no passengers aboard).

Prior to this it was very common for preexisting rail lines to serve both passenger and freight traffic in Pretoria and across the country. Few cities even had an established commuter rail networks. It was common place for the freight companies themselves provided low frequency passenger train service on some of their lines using antiquated equipment several decades old. The Fed's however did operate a national long distance train service called Hallmark(Albion's version of Amtrak) which was established back in 1923.

Prior to the RSCA there were dozens of freight line companies operating across the nation. The RSCA created an environment where mergers and consolidation between these companies became advantageous, knowing that the local governments would be paying out large sums of money to purchase rail 'rights of way'(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right-of-way_(transportation)) for use in the creation of passenger-only rail lines. It was around this time that the ICR(Intercontinental Railway), GWR(the Great Western Railway) and ACER(Ablion Central Railway) established themselves as the three main railways of the nation, though only two of them operate in Pretoria region(the ICR & GWR).

Pretoria, the nation's third largest city by population wasted no time getting its act together. Following several local freight mergers, it quickly bought up multiple rail right of ways that were either deemed excessive stock or being abandoned by the freight companies. And on Nov 22, 1969 regular commuter train service begin on portions of 2 lines; the O line(Ocean) from Dresden to Noriega and the ME line(Middle East) to Lindin City.

The original Fastraxx System Map, circa 1969;
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These map(s) are to scale and the distances between stations are generally accurate. The dotted black line represents my region's current size and Pretoria's city limits, the metro area continues further beyond.

The Ocean line was later extended and then split in two separate lines(NP & L). Three additional lines were opened over the following decades; A line in 1976, the SS line in 1979 and the C line in 1985. This increased  the number of stations from 13 to 33. Train frequencies were also increased from rush hour only on the original two lines to all day service on the L & NP lines.. However by the late 1990's the system was starting to encounter severe congestion problems and more trains could not be added until these issues were resolved.


Fastraxx system map, circa 1999;
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In the early 2000's the system underwent its largest expansion to date the most important of which was the electrification project. Prior to electrification, trains were powered by diesel locomotives. In combination with the system wide electrification new equipment had to be purchased. Electric locomotives replaced the diesel units operating on the rush hour only lines(C, ME & SS) and EMU's(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electric_multiple_unit) were purchased for use on the all day service lines. The electric trainsets provide much better acceleration than the previous diesel trains which allowed for the addition of 13 new stations without increasing overall travel time and greatly improved train frequencies during rush hour. Station spacing was reduced from one station every 2.8 km to one every 2.1 km and the C line was added to the all-day service loop on the L & NP lines. Trains are typically 5 or 6 coaches long and have a seating capacity of between 400 to 480 people per train. When accounting for standees a rush hour trains typically holds as many as a 1000 people. Additionally these new trains were built to be operated by cab signalling and are PTC(Positive Train Control) compliant. This improved system reliability and most importantly safety. Trains would no longer be solely directed by line of sight way side and most signal masts were removed except for those at major junction or interlocking points, that is where trains can crossover tracks. Any train exceeding its operating limits will be stopped automatically by the PTC system. This also reduced crewing requirements from two per train to just one greatly reducing yearly operating costs.

The automated Airport Express was also built during this time provided a direct connection from Pretoria International Airport to downtown Astoria. Astoria for the record is Pretoria's Manhattan. The Airport Express is serviced by automated 4-car EMU's running on an elevated viaduct until just before Pretoria Central where the line runs in an underground tunnel and station. Several extension projects were also initiated on the ME(2009) C(2014) and NP(2017) lines. Another important project was the separation of the ME & SS lines from the L line. Previously these line merged onto the same set of tracks which created congestion. A new set of tracks was built parallel to the L line extending all the way from Pretoria Central to Lindin City and the routing of the ME line was changed to accommodate this. Commuters wishing to stop at points in between Calgon & Pretoria Central from the ME & SS lines have to transfer over to the L line at Calgon station. In all the system is 100km long and which is almost entirely double tracked giving a total of 205 kms of mainline track and plus another 15 kms of yard tracks.

Summary of the system upgrades post 2000
Electrification of the entire Fastraxx network
Project # Fastraxx Project no.1
M Project date: 2002-2008
Projected Costs: $1.65 Billion
Contractor: multiple

Order for new rail equipment - Electric Multiple Units
Order date: 2003
Delivery date: 2008-2010
Total number of coaches: 178
Cost per Unit: $7.8 million
Projected Costs: $1.39 Billion
Contractor: Prototype Equipment
 
Order for new rail equipment - Electric Locomotives
Order date: 2005
Delivery date: 2007-2009
Total number of engines: 30
Cost per Unit: $16.5 million
Projected Costs: $496 million
Contractor: Electric Motors

In-Cab Signal System installation
Project # Fastraxx Project no.2
M Project date: 2006-08
Projected Costs: $305 million
Contractor: Massive Electric
 
Positive Train Control Instillation
Project # Fastraxx Project no.4
M Project date: 2008-12
Projected Costs: $580 million
Contractor: Automaton Solutions Inc.
 
Airport Express Line
Project # Fastraxx Project no.6
M Project date: 2010-13
Length of Line: 4.8 km
Station platforms: 3
Projected Costs: $825 million
Contractor: Supreme Construction
 
ME Line extension to Fairmount
Project # Fastraxx Project no.3
M Project date: 2007-08
Length of Extension: 4.4 km
Projected Costs: $83 million
Contractor: RealRail corp.

C Line extension to Eastlea
Project # Fastraxx Project no.7
M Project date: 2012-14
Length of Extension: 2.3 km
Projected Costs: $204 million
Contractor: MCR Rail inc.
 
NP Line extension to Aspen
Project # Fastraxx Project no.8
M Project date: 2013-17
Length of Extension: 6.1 km
Projected Costs: $397 million
Contractor: RealRail corp.
 
Seperation of the ME & SS from the L line
Project # Fastraxx Project no.5
M Project date: 2008-13
Length of new corridor: 8.9 km
Projected Costs: $1.08 Billion
Contractor: multiple

Total costs: $7.01 Billion

The result of which is this;
Fastraxx system map, 2016;
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The all-day service route actually functions as one large loop totaling 50.4 kms long. Trains starts off at either Halcyon on the NP line(green) or at Highland at the end of the short A line(cyan). After departing Halcyon the train(s) proceeds south to Pretoria Central. Next it transfers over to the Inner-Bay route of the L line(Red). From there it will loop around Cisco Bay(the waterbody not the city) and return to Pretoria Central via the Cross-Bay route. After which it will finally transfers onto the A line(Cyan) and continue onto Highland station. There it turns around and the entire process is reversed. So really the NP, L & A lines (green/red/cyan) operate as one big 28 station loop. 

The Style of the system map is based off the same style as Ontario's GO Train system map: http://www.gotransit.com/timetables/en/schedules/maps.aspx#
GO transit however also operates a regional bus network while Fastraxx does not. This is because the Pretoria Metropolitan Area is far denser than the Greater Toronto Area and the Fastraxx commuter system covers and goes through all urban areas. The subway system in Pretoria is also quite elaborate as is the local bus network, both of which are run by a separate agency called the Pretoria Transit Authority(PTA). The PTA will be covered in a future E2.

As mentioned before, there is also a long distance train service operated by the federal government called Hallmark. The Hallmark service only operates on the NP, ME & SS lines, basically going to destinations beyond Pretoria further North, East & South. Additionally there are several different long distance bus routes but these are all run by private agencies and not the government.


Synopsis of the Fastraxx system
Number of lines - 7 (3 of which are shared with the Halmark inter-regional/long distance train service)
Total number of stations - 44 + 2 under construction
Total system length - 100 km
Daily ridership(weekdays) - 140,800

Comparison of ridership to real-world systems(North America);
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Profile of the Individual lines
Comparisons between the individual lines;

Ridership - daily weekday average
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Ridership, rush hour  - daily weekday average
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Track Lengths
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Stations
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The ridership numbers are based off in game totals for the A & L lines. The other lines are estimates for now since I've yet to actually build them in game. The actual routes of the Airport Express, NP & C lines have yet to be finalized.

Airport Express(purple):
number of stations - 3
total length - 4.8 km
daily ridership - 7,260
type of service - all day, two-way service 7 days a week
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NP - North Point line(green):
number of stations - 12 (includes 2017 extension)
total length - 16.4 km (includes 2017 extension)
daily ridership - 20,900 during rush hours
daily ridership - 32,510
type of service - all day, two-way service 7 days a week
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C - Central line(orange):
number of stations - 7
total length - 10.1 km
daily ridership - 6,350
type of service - rush hour weekday service only
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A - Astoria line(cyan):
number of stations - 4
total length - 3.8 km
daily ridership - 3,570 during rush hours (actual in game total - combined morning & evening station counts divided by 2)
daily ridership - 10,330 including off-peak service
type of service - all day, two-way service 7 days a week
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ME - Middle East line(Grey):
number of stations - 9
total length - 18.9 km
daily ridership - 10,700 
type of service - rush hour weekday service only
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This service skips 5 stations on the track shared with the L line
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L - Loop line(Red):
number of stations - 18(2 served only during rush hour period)
total length - 27.7 km
daily ridership - 43,400 during rush hours (actual in game total - combined morning & evening station counts divided by 2)
daily ridership - 65,250 including off-peak service
type of service - all day, two-way service 7 days a week
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As you can see the path the L-line takes is actually a figure 8, rather then a simple loop.
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SS- South Shore line(Blue):
number of stations - 7
total length - 18.1 km
daily ridership - 8,400
type of service - rush hour weekday service only
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This service skips 4 stations on the track shared with the L line
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Fastraxx regional view;
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I will profile each corridor individually with in game pics and detailed official railway type track schematics in future entries. And that brings this entry to a close. I can't tell you exactly how long it took me to make this entry, but lets just say I've been working on this for a LONG time.



 

Takingyouthere

Finally had a chance to play some simcity4 this week after barely touching the game at all for about 2 months. Recently I returned to full time work after being off for more than a year and in the process getting reacquainted with the job there was precious little time left for playing games and browsing web sites. I'm hopeful that I'll be able to update the CJ a little more frequently and be more active on ST going forward.

Drseden's city center is the fifth largest commercial in the region, behind downtown & uptown Pretoria, Calgon & Garden City but ahead of both Cisco Bay & Lindin City and a few others. This which makes it the largest city center I've previewed to date. It's more on the generic side and probably has the lowest amount of custom content of any of the high rise nodes. Out of the 32 buildings that I would consider as being highrises in the downtown core, exactly half(16) are custom content and the other half are generic SC4 vanilla/rush hour buildings. I'm not entirely pleased with the spacing & placement either but the problem is the city suffers from some kind of bug and high density residential buildings simply won't grow despite having high demand and land values. So the city is stuck with the originally built out for residential. That being said, the one thing I really like about the skyline is with how it's nestled in between the ocean and mountain(s). Here's what I mean;
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A couple of pano's of the downtown area in relation to Mount Tokiko & the Ring of Steel.
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Of course it wouldn't be a city center update without the obligatory top ten tallest buildings list;
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In comparison to
Cisco Bay's top 10;
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& Lindin City's top 10;
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And a new feature going forward as the city centers get taller with be the tallest buildings timeline list.

Timeline of Dresden's tallest;
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Name: 330 Pier St.
Height: 210ft / 64m
Tallest from: 1927 to 1931(4 years)
Dresden's first true highrise


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Name: The Free Press Building
Height: 255ft / 78m
Tallest from: 1931 to 1961(30 years)
longest stretch of being the cities tallest


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Name: Port of Dresden, Control Tower
Height: 316ft / 96m
Tallest from: 1961 to 1973(12 years)


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Name: First National Bank Building
Height: 333ft / 101m
Tallest from: 1973 to 1975(2 years)
first building over 300ft / 100m


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Name: Smith's Block
Height: 347ft / 106m
Tallest from: 1975 to 1993(18 years)
second longest stretch of being the cities tallest


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Name: The Euro Center
Height: 432ft / 132m
Tallest from: 1993 to 2002(9 years)


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Name: Concordia Plaza
Height: 442ft / 135m
Tallest from: 2002 to 2008(6 years)


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Name: Residence at the DMFNK
Height: 454ft / 138m
Tallest from: 2008 to current(7 years)

The are currently no proposals for a new tallest.

The next update will feature the transportation network of the entire city.

 

 

Takingyouthere

*Update* - This entry only showcases the maxis night shots of the power plant. For the cooler dark night shots please check out entry 34. :)

The rest of the city may sleep at night but the power plant is very active. Normally only two units are required at night, but on this humid night all units are active while another nearby power plant is down for maintenance.

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The stacks for unit 3&4 weren't built with a maintenance/rest platform so aside from a single high-intensity xenon discharge flasher on the north side they do not meet the current aircraft warning safety regulations. Rather then spend the money to built a platform on a structure that wasn't designed for one, the PRPA simply illuminated the south side of the stacks with spot lights from the roof of the boiler building. 6tNG6cx.png

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The port facilities are also usually abuzz at night.
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The residents of Dresden have a love-hate relationship with the big plant which dominates the city's skyline. Those who work there and their families love it because it provides over 750 well-paying full time jobs and a trickle down effect in the local economy. There are also those who appreciate the vital role it plays in the regions economy and others who simply admire the structure because of how massive it is - like me! :).

But most local resident who don't directly benefit from the plant, aside from getting their electricity from it, resent the plant because of scenes like these;
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Even after the recent modernization project which significantly reduced overall sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and particulates releases, the plant is the second largest source of air pollution in the region after the ICON smelter facility. Previously it had been the #1 source by a large margin and independent studies have shown that local levels of air pollution(within Dresden) have been reduced by over 80% since the construction of the superstack and the conversion of units 3&4 to peak only usage. But coal power can never be completely clean and people will understandably never be happy with air pollution. However the often forget that plant came first - Dresden's pop. was 28,000 in 1954 when the first phase of the plant was completed(1000 of whom worked there), today its over 92,000. They were the ones who chose to move into the city despite the power plants presence and after just having spent 1.6 billion dollars refurbishing the plant, she's not going anywhere.

And with the tour of the Dresden Generating Station is concluded.

Takingyouthere

The Dresden GS(Generating Station) is a major coal-fired power plant owned and operated by the PRPA(Pretoria Regional Power Authority) a publicly owned electrical utility company which owns and operates a total of 11 power plants in and around the Pretoria Metropolitan Area. Dresden GS is by far the largest of PRPA's power plants with a total nameplate capacity of 2,240MW. When operating at peck capacity the plant produces almost 50% of Pretoria's electric supply, enough power for 1.2 million people. The plant is located on the East side of the Dresden Port District.

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Phase One
Prior to the plants construction most of the electricity supplied to Pretoria came from 3 medium sized hydroelectric stations and an antiquated coal power plant all of which were located in the Central Pretoria. Together these 4 plants - Holyrood(Coal) GS - 335MW, Noirwater1 - 294MW, Noirwater2 - 190MW & Evermore1 - 118MW), along with a couple of other small stations produced a little over 1,000MW. This was more than enough for the region's 400,000 residents back in the mid 1940's. However at the start of the 50's the city entered into a prolonged period of growth and expansion. With its population and economy expanding by nearly 8% per yearly it quickly became evident that power demand would outstrip supply in matter of years. A site was quickly selected on the south side of Cisco Bay and 18 hectares of land near Dresden's booming port was earmarked for the thermal-electric plant that would meet Pretoria's seemingly insatiable growing power demands.

Construction began in May 1951 and quickly became a project of superlatives: The stations first boilers were the largest ever installed in the nation; the 380,000 kilowatt Parsons G2-5A generators were the largest available and the stations power transformers were the largest in the world. Each of the boilers was paired with a brick-line smokestack, both towering 465ft(142m) over the surround landscape which made them the tallest structures in Dresden at the time. A new hydro interconnection was built consisting of the Hardack, Tauon & Muon hydro corridors and the Hillsboro & Enforce transmission substation through which electricity was directed around Cisco Bay to Central Pretoria. The total cost of this project was $148 million.

The station was formerly commissioned and put into service on Aug 13, 1954. Almost instantly regional capacity nearly doubled from 1,050MW to 1,810MW. It was much needed since by then the power situation had become so desperate that the government had to implement rolling blackouts two months beforehand. Though these only effected the outlying(and less affluent) areas of the growing metropolis.

Dresden Generation Station, circa Jan 1955
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But Dresden GS's story does not end here.


Phase Two
Regional growth would continued unabated over the next 10 years. By 1960 it was clear that additional units would be needed. A study concluded that year indicated the plant would reach maximum capacity within 10 years and another 1,000 MW of electricity would be needed within 25 years. This time the government did not wait around and quickly authorized the PRPA to building additional generation capacity. And so in early 1962 construction on phase two of the station began. Part of Cisco Bay, directly west of Units 1&2 was backfilled and Unit's 3 & 4 were built on the new landfill. The coal stockpile was moved to the west side of the plant and expanded. A new much larger docking facility was also built. Coal imports would increase by 125% from an average of 400 tons per day to 900. The amount delivered by ships would increase from 40% to over 90%.

In Aug 1965 Units 3 & 4 were completed and placed online. Two Parsons G5-9S generators with a capacity of 500,000 kilowatt's, once again the largest available at that time were installed. And the Hardack, Tauon & Muon hydro corridors were all expanded with a second set of electric pylons. The new boilers were of a far more efficient design and were each paired with a 600 foot tall(183m) smokestack. The two new stacks again assumed the title of Dresden's tallest structure until the KIRO TV tower(609ft/186m) was build on Mount Tokiko in 1971.

Dresden Generation Station, circa 1975
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After the completion of units 3 & 4 total nameplate capacity of the plant rose from 760MW to an impressive 1,760MW. Phase two had a total cost of $226 million and when completed made Dresden GS the world's largest power plant, a title it would hold on to for the next 15 years(1965-79).


Modernization Project
By the late 1980's the original units of the plant were approaching the 40 year mark and nearing the end or their life expectancy. These units were operating at less then 30% thermal efficiency and were under powered for their size. The station was a major source of pollution and smog in the Pretoria air shed. With the oldest units dating back to the 1950s, the plant was ranked 3rd on the national list of dirtiest power plants in terms of sulphur dioxide emissions per megawatt-hour of electrical energy produced. Overall it was by far the largest generator of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and other particulates in the entire region.

Dresden GS's old Unit 1 & 2, only used for peak load purposes by the late 80's.
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In 1989 after after Baycole GS and the new transcontinental hydro corridor were built, phase one of the plant containing the Units 1 & 2 underwent a 1.6 billion dollar modernization program. The original boilers, turbines and generators were all replaced in the 6-year long project. Low NOx burners and electrostatic precipitators where also added at the time. Two new Dynamic Electric T-1000 generators, each producing 620,000 kilowatts, were installed increasing the total generating capacity by 27% to 2,240MW. The two boilers were marred to a single new 1,001-foot tall(305m) superstack built to vent pollution high above the local air shed. The original brick line stacks were taken out of service, however they were not demolished because they were connected to the buildings superstructure.The super stack greatly reduced local pollution levels because not only did it replace the two shorter stacks of Unit's 1 & 2 but Unit's 3 & 4 with its shorter stacks would transition into more of a peak load role. The superstack is currently the tallest in the region, being a single foot taller then the ICON smelters "Big White" just across the Bay.

Units 1 & 2 today
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The superstack took 6 months to complete and contains nearly 25,000 tons of concrete. It is currently the the 8th tallest smokestack on planet Azura and the tallest structure in the city of Dresden/the South Shore borough, overtaking the 839ft (256m) tall WBNS TV tower built in 1985. Dresden GS is connected to the PRPA's(Pretoria Regional Power Authority) operations center via direct microwave link. The transmitter/receiver is located on the 280m level of the superstack. Direct links to both Hillsboro TS & Enforce TS are also located on there.

Tip of the stack
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In the shadow of giants
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Rising above it all
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Cooling Systems
Two 270ft tall cooling towers were added to the east side of the plant as part of the upgrade to units 1 & 2, dramatically reducing the plants thermal pollution.
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All of the waste heat generated by the plant was at one time released into Cisco Bay. This water is used in large condensers to cool the used steam back to its liquid form. Prior to the construction of the cooling tower the plant withdrew more than 50 million gallons of water per hour for cooling needs at peak load. Today Units 1 & 2 operate using a new closed loop system. Units 3 & 4 continue to use the once-through system. Withdrawal levels have been reduced to 30 million gallons of water per hour at peak load when all units are in operation. However Units 3 & 4 only operate on a peak load basis, usually between the hours of 6am and 8pm for an average of 14 hours per day, while the newly replaced Units 1 & 2 are used for base load purposes. The closed loop system of Units 1 & 2 withdraw only a fraction of the amount of water they used to, approx. 1 million gallons per hour. This means that the plants actual average hourly withdrawal rate is much lower coming in at around 18 million gallons per hour.

The intake and outlet structures
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Coal Supply
Western coal is delivered to Dresden via ocean going 100,000-ton freighters. Shipments of coal regularly arrive at the Dresden GS docking facility
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The plant coal pile is relatively small for a plant of this size with a maximum capacity of  0.75 megatons. This is nonetheless sufficient to provide for about 40 days of operation at maximum load
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Coal is feed into the plant by a series of conveyor belts either directly off anchored bulk carriers next to the pier or from the coal stockpile
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Typical mix of the coal batch is 90% western 10% eastern. Eastern coal has a higher energy content but has greater emissions so its use is limited. Eastern coal is delivered by rail on unit trains to an unloading facility on the "coal spur" which branches off GWR's mainline Almera sub
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Connections to power grid
The plant is connected to the power grid by 4 double circuit 250 kV transmission lines, also owned and regulated by the PRPA. Two lines travel eastward merging with a third from the nearby Bunsen Burner Waste to Energy plant to form the Hardack hydro corridor. Most of Dresden GS's power flows on this interconnection  towards the Middle East and Central districts. Two other 250kV lines travel southward on the Zelfor hydro corridor providing power to the South Shore borough and creating an interconnection with other power plants located south of Pretoria.

The Switchyard at Dresden GS, looking east
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The Switchyard looking west, obscured by the mist from the cooling towers
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Overview of the Plant Today
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Units 1 & 2
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Units 3 & 4
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Currently Dresden GS is currently the third largest coal-fired plant in the nation and the 16th largest electric plant overall on planet Azura.

This complex is one of my 3 favorite creations that I've made in SC4. Hope you enjoyed checking it out :)

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