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Fort Collins Man Creates Train Traffic Mobile Alert System

FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4) - It seems train traffic is getting more congested in Fort Collins. One man was so tired of it, he invented a way to alert people to when a train is coming.

"Crossings up here seem to vary from anywhere between 10-20 minutes," said John Howe.

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Howe is the vice president of operations for Schrader's Country Store.  He helps run convenience shops, making things easier for people on the go.

"Anything we can do to help each other out is always a good thing," he said.

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While Howe is in the business to make things more convenient, there's nothing he can do to make trains around him run faster. However, by the end of January, Schrader's building near College and Willow in Fort Collins will be joining a camera network that alert drivers of oncoming trains.

"The camera that looks for that train is just on the side of the house, and it looks at the tracks that are right over here," Jim Haselmaier said.

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Haselmaier developed the system to send out a tweet every time his camera detects a train by Trilby and Harmony. Right now it can only detect northbound trains coming to FoCo, but with Schrader's camera residents will finally get alerts to southbound ones.

"Tragically there was an accident in Fort Collins just about a month ago where a train stopped and people were frustrated and they started crossing the tracks," Haselmeier recalled.

He told CBS4 that person was severely hurt. He's hoping to prevent accidents like this in the future. So he's renewing his call for people to join his volunteer network.

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"If anybody wants to take on implementing in their community, I'm happy to help them. I'm happy to give them the software, I'm happy to tell them all the things that I've done."

He's now offering to pay for a camera and help with installation at select locations in northern Colorado to build his network. As far as expanding to Denver metro areas and other places, he invites people to contact him, he will share the open source software he uses, as well as do the best he can to help.

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