By Thomas Garcia
QCS Senior Writer
The staff and crew of the New Mexico Department of Transportation’s Tucumcari Patrol won the annual “Best Practice” Competition held on Jan. 20 at the department’s General Office in Santa Fe.
In the competition representatives from all six NMDOT districts make a presentation on how their department found a better and more efficient way to work, said Yvonne Aragon, District 4 public information officer.
Aragon said these individuals are a true example of how to “work smarter not harder” by developing a way to be more efficient and safe all while reducing the man hours and cost to the state.
The Tucumcari Patrol won with a box blade patch apparatus, they designed and built from recycled plow bits that attaches to a loader. This apparatus allows the NMDOT crew to patch and repair a section of road faster while using less material and allows the road to opened to traffic quicker.
The idea was brainstormed by Patrol Supervisor, Lloyd Ashcraft and myself, but the entire crew had a hand in the design and building of the box, said Ed Lafferty, staff manager.
Lafferty said the box can be attached to any blade used by road crews and since it was made from parts that are available at any NMDOT yard it can be built for a relatively low cost.
Ashcraft said once attached to the blade the box can be adjusted to the width of the patch needed for the road repair. He said asphalt material (hot mix) is dumped into the box; the grader/blade moves the box to place material on the tacked area. The process allows for a more efficient application of the asphalt material to the section of road in need of repair, Ashcraft added.
Lafferty said before the box, crews would have to dump a larger portion of asphalt material and use shovels to fill the patch area and to remove the excess material.
Ashcraft said the box also allows the work crews to make immediate adjustments to the patch work as the asphalt material is laid out and the blade operator is applying it to the road.
Lafferty said the crews have already used the box to repair a section of Interstate 40 near Newkirk. He said the process was quicker and crew members were able to open that lane of traffic in a shorter time than before.
Lafferty said they plant to test the device even further during the spring with shoulder repairs on secondary state roads. He said the device should work and if it does it can be a huge help to departments across the state to work more efficiently in repairing roads and keeping them open and safe to motorist.