Elizabethtown Borough public works employees had a problem. They needed a way to remove sign posts from the ground, a laborious process. They looked into buying a device to make the job easier, but it costs $5,000 and has to be permanently mounted to a truck.
Tyler Clark, Travis Eppley, Mason Swartz, John Williams and Jeff Kinsey got to work on another way to do it. For $1,000 in materials, plus their labor, they built their own sign puller. And it doesn’t have to be attached to a truck permanently — it mounts to the truck using the same bracket used to attach a snowplow. It uses the power supply on the truck to pull out sign posts.
The five of them were recognized at the Elizabethtown Borough Council meeting on Thursday, June 21, with the “Build a Better Mousetrap” award from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s Local Technical Assistance Program.
The award was presented by Lou Faretti, the Local Technical Assistance Program director at the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, and Karen Atkinson, the LTAP manager at the Pennsylvania State Association of TownshipSupervisors.
The Elizabethtown invention took first place in the program. Bath Borough, Northampton County, and Milton Borough, Northumberland County, were named runners-up for inventions to clean storm grates more effectively.
As the first-place winner in the Pennsylvania contest, Elizabethtown’s invention will be entered in a regional competition with winners from Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia,
as well as in a national competition.
The competition recognizes municipalities that build innovative gadgets or develop improved ways of doing a transportation-related job. It is run by PennDOT’s Local Technical Assistance Program, which is one of 58 LTAP centers across the nation (one in each state, Puerto Rico and seven regional centers serving American Indian tribal governments.) These centers are dedicated to transferring transportation technology through training, technical assistance, and other customer services to municipal elected officials and their staff.
The LTAP program is designed to help Pennsylvania’s municipalities, which maintain over 77,000 miles of roadways, make the best use of their roadway maintenance dollars. PennDOT LTAP provides technical information and proven technologies dealing with roadway maintenance and safety methods to meet the growing demands on municipal governments. PennDOT LTAP has provided technology transfer services to Pennsylvania’s 2600 municipal governments since 1983.