Today, the City of Columbus announces the launch of a web-based train status page that will allow residents to determine if a train is approaching the intersection of Indiana 11 and SR 46. The technology behind the page was designed by Isaiah Bowman, a senior at Purdue Polytechnic Columbus who is completing his Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Information Technology.
A report prepared for the Surface Transportation Board, completed by CSX, indicated that train traffic may increase from an average of 8 trains per day to an average of 22 trains per day (depending on the market demand). CSX invested $100 million in improvements into the Louisville and Indiana Rail Line.The resulting disruption at the intersection of Indiana 11 and State Road 46 is expected to cause delays in travel in and out of Columbus for an estimated 60,000 residents and visitors each day. EMS services will also be negatively impacted. The development of a status page will now allow all users to take alternate routes to their destinations or delay departure until a train has cleared the intersection and traffic is once again moving normally in the area.
Bowman began work on the notification system initially in August 2017 as part of a special class tasked with creation of a train notification system for the City of Columbus. With a team of three other students, the group assisted City of Columbus officials with selection of detection cameras and tools that would allow a notification system to work reliably. However, programming work on the status page was not completed by the end of the semester.
Bowman volunteered to stay on with the project through completion, working closely with both City of Columbus and Bartholomew County officials to develop a web-based status page that will work on desktop and mobile devices and will not require users to download an “app” to use it. This was in addition to his full-time course load and his work study responsibilities at Cummins Inc. Bowman’s continued involvement with the project and ongoing support of the website is being managed by TD Advertising of Columbus, Indiana.
“Working on the train notification system has been one of the more challenging projects I have been involved with so far in my career,” said Bowman. “I have really learned a lot about the practical uses of computer technology. Since I recently moved to the west side of Columbus, I have a particular stake in the system working, as I plan to use it to make sure I can get to class and work on time.”
A network of cameras has been installed by the City of Columbus and Bartholomew County to allow for live video feed of key intersections along the train route for use by EMS officials, specifically the intersections at 950 S, 200 S and Indiana 11/ SR 46. When motion is detected at these intersections, an email alert is sent to the web notification system, triggering the signal to turn from green (“All Clear”) to red (“Train Detected”).
The status page is intended to allow users to choose alternate routes to reach their destinations when a train is detected. However, users of the status page are advised to obey all State and local vehicle laws and posted speed limits, as well as to use caution during their travels.
“The City of Columbus and Bartholomew County residents have been eagerly awaiting a status page to better inform them of potential delays in their travels,” said Mayor Jim Lienhoop. “We are thoroughly impressed with Isaiah’s work on this project and are excited to share this tool with residents and visitors to allow travel in and out of Columbus to be much smoother and safer. We encourage all to use the status page responsibly while obeying State and local vehicle laws, allowing them to arrive at their destinations safely.”
The notification system may be accessed by visiting http://www.columbusrailroadproject.org. Bowman will remain with the project through early 2019 to make additional adjustments to the status page as necessary.