Complex problem involving multiple shapefiles 'flattened' to a raster image

Discussion created by zetar on Feb 19, 2013
Latest reply on Feb 20, 2013 by zetar
I have a complex problem and I'm looking for advice on how to approach it. I'm quite comfortable coding in C# and WPF but I'm new to ArcGIS Consequently, I am probably overlooking 'easy' ways to solve this.

N number of shapefiles that contain data about roads, rivers, coastlines, forests, etc.

A raster image (actually just a 2D array) that contains the sum* of all the data from the shapefiles (above) mapped to a common coordinate system.

* = When I say 'sum' I mean added in a specific order so that the shapefile that contains road would be added last so that the roads would 'cross' the rivers.

In the graphic below I've created a very crude example (the values are 0 = 'clear terrain', 1 = water, 2 = road).

So what I want to end up with is a 2D array that has numerical values for the terrain features imported from the shapefiles and also the lat/long coordinates of the beginning and end of the 2D array.

Anybody have any ideas? Thanks in advance!