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GIS Survey Team Knocks One Out of the Park for UP

On June 30th, the Union Pacific railroad reached out with a particularly challenging request. Due to a high-priority, uniquely dimensioned shipment destined for the West Coast, a nearly 2,000-mile route needed to be surveyed to ensure clearances allowed for the large shipment to pass. Even more challenging, the route needed to be surveyed in a 3-week window starting on July 5th.With little time to waste, and on very short notice, the HTI Cedar Rapids GIS survey team mobilized two of HTI’s LiDAR hi-rail survey vehicles and headed West to Cheyenne, WY. Armed with the Passion for the Customer mindset, and equipped with precision LiDAR scanners and video cameras, the Herzog survey team was ready to take on the job. Eric Knipper, Lead GIS Technician, and Ross Wedewer, GIS Technician II, set out for Cheyenne, WY with one goal: execute the survey plan at an elite level, quickly, safely, and efficiently.

Supplementing UP’s forces in the effort to cover 2,000 miles, HTI was tasked to complete the section between Cheyenne and Pocatello. Eric and Ross worked early mornings and late nights, often covering over 100 miles a day on track. Each evening, they would review and upload the highest priority data so that the office team in Cedar Rapids could process the clearance measurements the following morning. Thanks to the hard work and dedication of Eric and Ross, the field data collection was finished without incident, and more than a week ahead of the anticipated completion date.

Back in the Cedar Rapids office, Jeff Burnett, Software Architect, led the effort to create a final data product that would seamlessly work with Union Pacific’s clearance workflow. The Herzog Clearance Analyzer software (HCA), previously developed by the Cedar Rapids software group, was the foundation for the UP clearance solution. HCA works together with our LiDAR survey vehicles, performing high-wide clearance measurements using both standard and user-defined clearance templates. With Jeff’s guidance, and the support of the software team of Seth Dargy, Bryce Jacobson, and Tony Wilson, and engineering technician Laura Oldfather, new functionality was developed to integrate HCA clearance data with the UP clearance system, and a workflow was established to quickly and efficiently turn around the clearance data for UP.

A full week ahead of the anticipated end date for the field collection, all of the clearance data has been delivered to Union Pacific. Kudos to Eric, Ross, Jeff, and the rest of the HTI Cedar Rapids team for their collaboration and support of each other, and for providing a truly elite customer experience on a high priority project.