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The old bridge truck a 1998 utility van

by guest blogger Kris Olsen

Remember that old reality show “Monster Garage?” Well, it’s got nothing on our transportation equipment technicians who are truly experts in the field of fabrication. They also know how to reduce, reuse and recycle in a big way!

Earlier this year, the bridge crew’s old 1998 Chevy utility van (which looks like a bread wagon) needed to be replaced - the old “bread wagon” was turning into a rusty bucket and it didn’t have enough room to carry the crews and the big pieces of equipment needed to maintain thousands of bridges. Assistant bridge superintendent Rick Rodda explained to the equipment techs that what the bridge crews really needed was a heavy-duty crew-cab truck with a van body. So, the equipment techs went to the drawing board and got creative. The result is truly a one-of-a-kind truck.

As luck would have it, the Ferries Division had recently turned in an old warehouse van. The techs took one look at it and were inspired. They tore the 18-foot-long van body off. Then they bought an International 4300 crew-cab chassis. And then took these two different pieces and built a custom truck exactly to bridge’s specifications while staying within budget.

But the techs aren’t done! The chassis from the dismantled ferry warehouse van has some life left in it yet. The techs plan to use that when they build a new traffic-control truck, known affectionately as a “Road Warrior.” In fact, most of our “new” vehicles, like traffic and maintenance trucks, go into our shop first before they get used in the field. They don’t arrive ready to go, at least not quite ready for what we need them to be able to do. Our mechanics install radios, computers, customized tailgates, lighting, etc. The vehicles are specially modified to do exactly what we need them to do.

Hats off to our equipment techs who routinely find unique ways to solve problems, build and maintain complex pieces of machinery, and do it within budget. “Monster Garage, ” eat your heart out.



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