Excavator helps Ohio municipality address maintenance challenges

Oct. 6, 2017

For most municipalities, routine highway and street repair, re-curbing and drainage work are ongoing challenges that require a lot of manpower and several machines, all of which must be financed with tight budgets.

The Jackson Township Highway Division in Stark County, Ohio, is typical. Its 13 full-time employees and limited equipment fleet are responsible for maintaining 202 miles of paved roads, in addition to clearing drainage ditches, repairing curbs, mowing and much more.

Purpose-designed for governments, Gradall’s Discovery Series crossover excavators proved to be a suitable equipment option for the township. With a telescoping, tilting boom and upper structure mounted on a Freightliner truck chassis, the Discovery model is an affordable replacement for the G3WD Gradall excavator that had served the township for many years. The Discovery can use a variety of attachments to handle jobs such as ditching, grading and landscaping; curb, gutter and sidewalk repairs; and culvert replacement.

When jetters were unable to open up a clogged metal drainage pipe under a residential driveway, operator Tom Shonk used the Discovery model’s tilting boom and ditching bucket to excavate and remove the pipe, then clean up the ditch.

The boom then was used to position three sections of new plastic pipe in the ditch, where one end was attached to an existing drainpipe. Next, the Gradall excavated a place to install a new catch basin and lowered it into position at the other end of the pipe.

The tilting boom movements spread fine aggregate around the new pipe, creating an even surface that was topped with course aggregate—the finished surface for the residential driveway. The entire project was completed in just a few hours.

“We use the Gradall all the time for road repair, asphalt work, demolition with the fire department, tree stump removal and moving salt in the storage building over the winter,” said Shonk, who has 19 years’ experience operating Gradall excavators.

“We put the Gradall out to work almost every day,” said Victor Volpe, assistant public works director for the township. He noted that the Freightliner undercarriage can be driven at speeds up to 55 mph, eliminating the need for a lowboy trailer and truck—a requirement for conventional excavators and backhoes.

“With this one machine, one operator can do many different jobs at many different locations thanks to the tilting boom and ease of travel,” Volpe said.

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