Friday, March 21, 2008

Public Works outfitting old vehicles with new safety equipment

March 20, 2008

Refurbishing county trucks saves lives and money

FREEHOLD – The Monmouth County Department of Public Works & Engineering has saved the county an estimated $135,000 last year by refurbishing three older dump trucks and outfitting each one with safety equipment that protects roadside workers and motorists alike.

Motorists approaching a road-side work zone will see what is called an impact attenuator attached to the rear of a refurbished county truck, said John W. Tobia, Director of the Department of Public Works & Engineering. The device, also called a crash cushion, absorbs an errant vehicle’s kinetic energy or directs the vehicle away from the work zone. The trucks will be parked at the work zones, protecting workers from such a crash.

“I have seen where a vehicle traveling at a high rate of speed will hit the impact attenuator,” Tobia said of his previous experience with such devices. “The driver walked away unharmed and the truck itself did not move forward, preventing injuries to Highway workers.

“By refurbishing the older county dump trucks, we have found a more economical way to provide the same level of safety at county work sites for half the cost,” said Freeholder William C. Barham, liaison to the Public Works & Engineering department.

All work to retrofit the trucks is being done in-house by personnel from the truck and body shops, Tobia said. This year, the Department will outfit four additional older dump trucks with impact attenuators, and the goal is to eventually have 12 vehicles outfitted with these safety devices, he added.

“I commend Department employees for their innovative approach to saving lives as well as county tax dollars,” Freeholder Director Lillian G. Burry said. “This is especially important when you consider the fact that county taxes are not increasing this year. A job well done.”

A new impact attenuator truck costs approximately $90,000, Tobia said, but the cost of refurbishing and retrofitting an old truck with a new impact attenuator is less than half. The county operates more than 100 heavy duty trucks and typically replaces some units each year, Tobia said.

“We are providing this level of roadside safety for about half the cost,” he added.

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