3D in Pipeline Referencing

Available with Location Referencing license.

ArcGIS Pipeline Referencing supports 3D data, including all LRS calculations where the LRS data being used is in 3D. You can visualize and edit your LRS data in ArcGIS Pro in local scenes.

Z-aware features

All feature classes that are part of the LRS data model are z aware. This includes the centerline feature class, all LRS Networks, and LRS events. To ensure your LRS data is in 3D, the centerline features must have z-values populated. When these centerlines are used to create routes in an LRS Network, their z-values are applied to the routes. When events are created on the routes, they are also assigned the z-values from the route.

When centerlines are created or imported, z-values can be populated and updated before being used as parts of routes. When appending routes using the Append Routes tool, the z-values should be present on the source routes to ensure they are applied to the route in the network and its centerline.

Apply z-values to LRS operations

All LRS calculations in Pipeline Referencing are in 3D when the LRS data that is used has z-values populated.

This includes the following operations and calculations in the software:

  • Calibration point generation—The Generate Calibration Points tool calculates calibration point measures in 3D, taking the 3D length of the route, if z-values are populated.
  • Suggested measures in LRS edit activities—When making LRS edits using the Create Route, Extend Route, and Realign Route tools that include centerlines, the suggested from and to measures incorporate the 3D length of the centerlines being used for the edit.
  • Measure interpolation along routes—When measures are interpolated for a route in an LRS Network, the calculation of m-values along the route is based on the 3D distance between each calibration point on the route. This interpolation is also applied in the LRS Identify tool to return the measure at the location that is clicked.

If your data doesn’t have z-values, all features are assigned a z-value of 0 at each vertex. Since the z-values are the same at every vertex of each feature, any LRS operation treats this data as being in 2D and calculates accordingly.

If you want to add z-values to existing centerlines in your LRS, you can use 3D Analyst tools such as the Update Feature Z tool along with a digital elevation model (DEM) or digital terrain model (DTM). This process automatically propagates z-values to your calibration points and associated routes by invoking cartographic realignment.

You may want to revisit measures on the calibration points after this process completes as the measures won't change unless you have cartographic realignment set to update measures. Once the routes are correctly calibrated, you can run Apply Event Behaviors afterwards to incorporate the z-values onto your LRS events.

Edits to LRS data in 3D

LRS data can be visualized and edited in 3D using local scenes in ArcGIS Pro. When you add LRS data such as centerlines, calibration points, LRS Networks, and LRS events to a local scene with z-values populated, the Location Referencing tab appears in your ArcGIS Pro project. You can use all of the LRS editing tools on the tab to edit your LRS data in 3D, including to create, realign, or reassign routes; to add, modify, or delete calibration points; or to split centerlines and identifying routes.


If your LRS data has a vertical coordinate system configured, you will need to set the vertical coordinate system for your map in ArcGIS Pro to ensure that suggested measures and other functionality works correctly. The vertical coordinate system for a map can be set by opening the map properties, and configuring the z-coordinate system configured for the LRS data in the map in the Coordinate Systems tab.

Learn more about specifying a vertical coordinate system on a map or scene.