CHA's Technology Services Provide Powerful Results

Posted June 12, 2017

Today’s challenges require a firm focused on tomorrow’s technological solutions. CHA’s technology services support our operations and drive our clients’ successes. Our most requested technology services include:

  • Database Application Development and Integration
  • Project Portal and Web Design
  • Development of Mobile Data Collection Tools
  • Geospatial Information Systems Analysis
  • Process Automation

See how CHA is building technology into our projects and providing value to our clients!

Norfolk Southern’s Positive Train Control Tower Network
1,100 Locations Across New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Delaware, and Indiana

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) mandated the need for a system that would shut down trains remotely from a control station to address human-error related accidents on rail systems.  This led Norfolk Southern (NS) to reach out to their consultants to facilitate implementation of Positive Train Control (PTC) with a very short deadline. The PTC system uses a series of communication towers that enable controllers to stop trains remotely to prevent accidents and issues. The system can shut down trains remotely at any time in any location.

Part of the process for developing the system was for NS to build a PTC tower network, which required nearly 3,000 towers system-wide.  CHA was responsible for the environmental assessment and permitting of more than 1,100 towers spread across six states.  Due to strict EPA guidelines and regulations related to wetland, floodplain, ecological, tribal, historic, and cultural resources, the EPA stepped in and put the project on hold.  Environmental resources had the potential to affect tower locations.

CHA understood that NS needed to environmentally screen sites efficiently and proposed a system using geospatial technologies that linked disparate database information sources to create an application that could quickly identify and compare proposed PTC tower sites on railroad rights of way remotely.  Using this information, CHA could environmentally screen sites and make impact assessments that would meet the criteria of the federal mandate.  CHA assisted NS in completing a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) screening for each tower. The sites were screened for wetlands, floodplains, wilderness areas, wildlife preserves, threatened and endangered species, and cultural resources.

Additionally, CHA developed an automated tool that managed more than 1,100 submissions and approvals, automatically generated reports and mapping, and saved thousands of man hours. CHA’s technological solutions impressed the client by managing more than a third of the sites, while turning around screening and assessments within the demands of client needs and maintaining their ability to permit sites to build the proposed PTC towers.