It’s known as Edmonton’s most-hated train crossing — it’s even been dubbed “stupid train” — and chances are you’ve been stuck there more often than you’d like.
READ MORE: Edmonton drivers rejoice after Alberta budget promises to axe at-grade 50 Street rail crossing
A local company is now keeping an eye on the 50 Street and 82 Avenue CP Rail crossing around the clock.
Mtek digital, located just north of the notorious crossing, has mounted a camera on its rooftop, giving everyone a real-time view of the train situation.
“We’re constantly cursing this 50 Street train crossing,” Mtek digital president David Papp said. “We thought it would kind of be a challenge for us to custom program a train-detection algorithm.”
LISTEN BELOW: David Papp joins the Ryan Jespersen Show on 630 CHED
The site isthereatrain.com was launched the last week of May and so far some of the data collected is startling, Papp said.
“Just a week ago, at 2 p.m., the train was blocking the crossing for 45 minutes of the 60 minutes of the hour.”
Mtek digital displays another list of numbers on its website that will make you shake your head:
38 – The average number of crossings per day
5:16 – The average crossing time (last 24 hours)*
17:37 – The longest crossing time (last 24 hours)*
“The peak zone right now is from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.,” said Papp. “Traffic, rush hour. That’s the peak time that you’ll see the most number of trains.”
Mtek digital referred to the crossing as the “bane of Edmonton drivers for 25 years.”
The online marketing company made it clear it is not pointing fingers or blaming the train company (or city) for traffic delays and tie-ups; it merely wanted people to have a tool to gauge their commute.
“CP Operations no doubt does their best to manage large sections, but the proximity to the 50 Street intersection is so close, we’re sure they are often challenged to keep closures to a minimum. As we’ve all been curious — there are certainly regulations that direct these operations — but we’ve come to accept that one way or another, the train must roll!”
Change is coming, albeit slowly.
The city plans to widen the 50 Street roadway from four to six lanes and to build an underpass or overpass to separate the tracks from traffic. The final design has yet to be approved but the city said the upgrades should be complete by the end of 2023.
READ MORE: Edmonton’s 50 Street rail crossing gets $40M in federal funding for grade separation
Over time, Mtek digital said the data collected could lead to a Twitter account or drivers may be able to subscribe to an app that will warn them of immediate delays.
For now, Papp said a quick trip to isthereatrain.com will tell you if it’s all clear.
“Edmontonians have this hate-hate relationship with that 50 Street crossing because it’s just never good. Chances are you will hit a train.”
Watch below (May 16, 2018): Many people are thrilled to learn the 50 Street rail crossing will be upgraded to separate trains and traffic, including our own Shaye Ganam. He sat down with Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi to talk about how the $40 million overhaul it will benefit drivers in east Edmonton.