You are the woman behind Amtrak’s 2035 map–the map that went viral during the election. What was that like?
Thanks for asking me about this because someone could look at that map and think it took a few days to make, but really it’s the culmination of many many years of work. When I first showed up at the agency, there was not a complete GIS network of all the routes we operated on. We had engineering documents, but nothing geospatial, certainly not outside of the rails owned and operated by Amtrak (mainly the northeast corridor). The first thing I did was get the geospatial network files from our partners and the Federal Railroad Administration who ran other parts of the network, and then worked with two incredible colleagues to get the mileposts out of their heads (!!) and onto a map.
As the GIS person in a large agency, most of my work is never seen, so I was surprised see this map get shared publicly and then delighted to see it move people. I had made the map for another ongoing planning project, but when the call came that we needed something that could depict our plans for 2035, the bird in the hand was what we ran with. It’s truly a story of years of data preparation, and then being in the right place at the right time. Then, to see my work at the center of a nationwide discussion about the future of train travel in this country, that was really something. I feel so lucky to have had that experience to expose the world to my work.