The city of Waukesha has long been plagued with the issue of rail congestion and safety. The traffic delays at the crossing on Moreland Blvd are well-know to those who frequent this road.

LinqThingz has done an alternate route example between East North Street/West Moreland Boulevard and Springdale Road/West Moreland Boulevard (see figure 1).

AMAZINGLY, there are two alternate routes with zero time penalties (According to Google directions).

APPARENTLY, when there is no blocked crossing, take each of these routes is equivalent:

  • West Moreland Boulevard – 7 minutes
  • West Bluemound Rd – 7 minutes
  • I-94 – 7 minutes

HOWEVER, when a train blocks the crossings at West Moreland Boulevard:

  • West Moreland Boulevard – 15 minutes + dequeue time.
  • West Bluemound Rd – 7 minutes
  • I-94 – 7 minutes

Figure1: Two alternate routes around Moreland Blvd crossings with same travel times.

Rail Information

Here the basic characteristics of rail traffic at the crossing at West Moreland Boulevard

  • 34 trains per day 2022 per FRA inventory report
  • There has been an increase in traffic and can reach 45 trains per day
  • average speed at crossing 17 mph per FRA accident reports
  • Estimated crossing delay 8 minuted per Fond du Lac actual delay times
  • 90% of delays are between 2 and 12 minutes not including dequeue times
Figure 2: Delay characteristics of the CN line (from LinqThingz sensor in Fond du Lac, WI).

Re-routing impact

Below is a map of Average Annual Daily Traffic for the area around West Moreland Boulevard. This is used to calculate impact on traffic for alternate routes and also to calculate monetary impact on community.

Figure 3: Average daily traffic in on Moreland, Bluemound, I-94 and local roads.

Typical delay time for occupied rail crossing is 8 minutes. For this CN line in Fond du Lac the crossing is blocked between 2 and 12 minutes for 90% of blockages. For simplicity we will use 8 minutes.

8 minute delay at Moreland would create a queue of 104 vehicles

8 minutes of traffic on Bluemound Rd is 62 vehicles

8 minutes of traffic on I-94 on the parallel path is 650

If 100% of traffic from Moreland was rerouted half to each of the alternate routes then the traffic on Bluemound would increase by 46% for 8 minutes and the traffic on I-94 would increase by 7% for 8 minutes.

Capacity? We have yet to determine capacity on these alternate routes.

Sensor Location and Warning Advance

There are some ideal locations for sensors to provide prediction of northbound and southbound traffic on the CN line.

Figure 4: Distance from sensor on Watertown Road is 2.63 mi from Moreland Blvd.

Figure 5: Distance from sensor on Sunset Dr is 2.63 mil from Moreland Blvd.

Advanced warning time of 9 minutes was obtained by using an average speed of 17 mph and a distance of 2.63 miles. Average advanced warning 9 minutes from both Sunset Sensor and Watertown sensor. 9 minutes advance warning gives plenty of time to make routing decisions from the points chosen for this analysis. There are multiple crossings between Sunset and Moreland, and multiple potential industrial customers served by this line. Additional sensors and College, Broadway and Main would provide additional insight and allow prediction at these and other crossings through the city.

Economic Impact

34 trains a day pass the crossing at Moreland Blvd with average daily traffic of 18700 and an average delay time of 8 minutes . This results in the following:

6.83 million vehicles per year travel over the crossing at Moreland

853,000 vehicles are stopped at this crossing per year

505 tons of carbon are produced in these delays

$228,000 of excess fuel is used

$2M in citizen productivity at $26/hr

$4M in logistics productive at $116/hr (note LTL revenue is about $274/hr)

The sum of economic impact from the subset of factors, at this crossing alone, is $6.1M per year.

Impact of Emergency Response

Below is a map of part of the City of Waukesha. The city is divided in half by both the Fox river and the Canadian National Rail line. The is one hospital on the west side of tracks. This results in a potential life threatening delay when a ambulance needs to move a patient from the east side of tracks to the west side of tracks. Having knowledge of where and when to cross the CN line could mean the difference between life and death.