The dramatic weather patterns in southwestern U.S. create a wide range of maintenance issues for the Texas DOT. Driving wind and rain, oppressive heat, and even droughts necessitate immediate, efficient, and thorough clean-up—clearing away vegetation, cleaning out drainage canals, and removing fallen or overgrown trees along roadways.
“Our crews are busy with some kind of roadway maintenance work every day,” said Clint Costner, equipment supervisor at the Tyler, Texas DOT. Jobs include clearing rights-of-way, loading trucks, pushing fallen trees off roads, cleaning out ditches, emergency response tasks, and even burying animals.
The Texas DOT has typically maintained a fleet of Gradall excavators, which were recently augmented with the addition of six new XL 4100 IV models—three of which are assigned to the area around Tyler.
“Each of the new excavator models comes with several attachments—for example, a 52-in. rotary brush cutter,” said Costner. The Gradall has a telescoping, tilting boom that can be used to position the brush cutter at any angle to grind up large tree limbs and stumps or clear ground-level vegetation, creating a neat appearance and, in many cases, improving sight lines.
Each of the excavators also is equipped with a 60-in. ditching bucket, an 18-in. trenching bucket and a grapple to maximize the versatility potential of the machines.
Gradall XL 4100 IV models have highway speed undercarriages and automatic transmissions, making them easier to drive.
“These excavators usually make maintenance work a one-man operation,” said Costner. “The operator can drive it out, do a job, and then drive it back to the yard. There’s no time lost to loading a machine, and we can respond pretty quickly.”
Once the machine is at work, it can be repositioned along the length of a ditch or roadway from the upper-structure cab—saving time and improving productivity.