New machine helps road commission with productivity

The Cass County Road Commission got a new piece of equipment during November that is helping them be more productive than ever before.

The commission works year round and the projects change according to the season and this new machine will help on certain projects.

“It’s important to make sure the ditches are cleaned out to promote proper drainage to get the water away from the road and the road edge itself. As the snow melts or we get heavy rains, it’s important because water destroys the road," said Steve Lucas, Managing Director with the Cass County Road Commission.

Lucas said cleaning out and making new ditches is a continual effort and one that previously cost a lot in productivity and in manpower.

“Prior to this the only way we could cut a ditch is either with an excavator or in areas where there’s more space available, you can use a grader,” he added.

Now with a machine called a "ditcher", they are able to increase efficiency. It is run by one person who drives a tractor and pulls the machine behind it. The ditcher uses a hydraulics system to clean out and create new ditches.

“It has a drum that spins with carbide teeth on it. You lower than into the ground and it removes the soil and actually throws it out onto the edge of the right of way away from the road,” said Lucas.

The commission bought the ditcher lightly used for $85,000.

“There’s a big difference in the costs for operation of it and it’s much faster than an excavator,” he said.

A full day of using an excavator costs county taxpayers $4,741.11 and also requires multiple people to get the job done.
“If you’re using an excavator to clean ditches or cut a new ditch with, you have an excavator and an operator and you have four or five dump trucks with operators,” said Lucas.

With the capability of now using a ditcher, it only costs $1,855.11 per day and can do three to four miles more a day than the excavator.

Due to the snow that fell on Monday and the chance of rain for the coming weekend, the commission could use the ditcher for the first time this year if it is needed and as long as the ground is not frozen.

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