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Create a projection file

05-07-2019 07:18 AM
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New Contributor

I would like to create a .prj file in order to exchange data between CAD and GIS.

For references, I have 9 ground control points in both the local grid and SPCS NAD83 equivalent and a table with the following values from the surveyor.

Projection Type: Lambert Conformal Conic 2 Parallel
False Northing: 1000000 usft
False Easting: 3000000 usft

Horizontal Adjustment Type: Plane
Origin Northing: 1347119.328 usft
Origin Easting: 2338925.736 usft
Translation North -1000000.629 usft
Translation East: -999854.751 usft
Rotation: -0°00'21.046132
Scale Factor: 1.000323

Reading some of the articles, I am going through a bit of information overload. I am looking for a method to develop the .prj for this scenario in particular. 

Thank you, 


3 Replies
by Anonymous User
Not applicable

Hi David,

We might need some additional information from the surveyor to create a .prj file from these specifications, as I'm not sure how the information provided by your surveyor will fit into the Esri format; it looks like we are missing a latitude of origin, central meridian, and a few other things, but maybe others here will have a better idea of how to format this. I can at least let you know how to start the process of creating a .prj file in general, though!

To create a .prj in ArcMap: (here's a video of this too 05.07.2019-07.49.36)

  • Open a new blank map
  • Right-click on the Layers data frame in the Table of Contents and select Properties
  • If necessary, click the Coordinate System tab
  • Click on the Globe icon at the top of the tab  and select New > Projected Coordinate System
  • Enter all of the pertinent parameters into the form
  • Once you've entered all of the projection information, click OK. You'll see the new coordinate system under the "Custom" folder in the Coordinate Systems tab
  • To export as a .prj, right-click on the new coordinate system and select "Save As." This will create a .prj file.

The process is the same in ArcGIS Pro, though it looks a little different. Here's a video of that workflow:


Hopefully that helps!



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New Contributor

Sorry, I was more concern on the values for the horizontal shift that I omitted a lot of useful information.

Projection Projection Type: Lambert Conformal Conic 2 Parallel
False Northing: 1000000 sft
False Easting: 3000000 sft
Origin Latitude: 39°20'00.00000 N
Origin Longitude 105°30'00.00000 W
Parallel 1: 40°47'00.0000N
Parallel 2: 39°43'00.0000
Semi major Axis: 20925604.474 sft
Flattening: 298.2572
Project Elevation: 7500 ft

And the typical values in the local grid look something like this:

   Y=364,046.135  X=1,359,194.067  Z=6348.177

How/where do I apply the shift values when creating the prj? 

Thank you for the video links.

Esri Notable Contributor

Hi David, 

The base coordinate reference system is NAD83 State Plane Colorado North (US survey feet). The flattening you listed is rounded compared to what's normally used, so I would just use the standard NAD83 definition. 

You've got scale, rotation, translation values so you could try georeferencing the CAD data this way: 

Defining a coordinate transformation

It also talks about setting up a world file instead. With either method, you would assign (use a prj file) that has the NAD83 State Plane Colorado North (US survey feet) definition. 

It's sometimes also possible to directly design a coordinate system that incorporates the translations, scale, and rotation values. Your case would be difficult because of the rotation. Lambert conformal conic doesn't have that parameter so you would have to try adjusting the central meridian value instead. It would be tedious, so I would try the other solutions first. 

If you want, please send me an email (mkennedy at esri dot com) and I can send you two documents that discuss this.