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Traffic Control Contractor Sneaks Under Wires With LoDril

Fri January 18, 2008 - Southeast Edition
Construction Equipment Guide

As fleet manager for the Altamonte Springs, Fla., office of Traffic Control Devices (TCD), Gerald Presley maintains better than 500 vehicles, each of which performs a specific function — or several of them — to get the job done quickly, safely and efficiently.

Over the years, TCD, which installs and maintains traffic signals, signage, traffic cameras and more, has faced countless challenges and met them either through outright creativity or through the use of new technology. The latest addition to its massive fleet, a new truck-mounted LoDril from Bay Shore Systems in Rathdrum, Idaho, now allows them to address one of the most vexing issues they’ve regularly faced: the challenge of drilling for new signals and signage directly beneath power lines. This new capability has already proven invaluable and has strengthened the company’s reputation as a leader in employing new approaches to the job at hand.

Full Service Company

Founded more than 20 years ago, TCD has grown steadily to a company of more than 400 employees. According to Presley, their expertise crosses a number of market lines.

“We are actually considered an electrical contractor, but our specialties lie in traffic signalization, information boards, fiber optic cable, high mast lighting, traffic cameras such as those used by state DOTs, and so on,” he said. “With offices throughout Florida, North and South Carolina, Tennessee and both Houston and Dallas, Texas, we offer a full gamut of services in support of those tasks — everything from design to construction to maintenance.”

Presley said today’s transportation systems have evolved from basic analog systems to new complex digital networks, called Intelligent Transportation Systems, capable of monitoring vast areas — all of which helped fuel TCD’s expansion and continued success.

Pardon the Interruption

That same continual push for newer, more elaborate transportation control equipment, however, is crowding the work environment, often complicating simple tasks like a signal install. Add in state DOT regulations requiring a minimum 10 ft. (3 m) overhead clearance between any on-site equipment and high-tension power lines and TCD’s ongoing challenges become clear.

“We take a number of steps to offset those challenges including regular replacement of equipment and the pressure drill was approaching that time,” Presley said. “The power line issue, though, was a real driving force behind the replacement. It used to be common to approach the local utility to request that power be temporarily interrupted or re-routed. But that’s no longer the case; people and companies don’t want the interruptions in service. So we knew we needed a tool that would allow us good drilling depths with a low overhead clearance height and the LoDril gives us both.”

Natural Extension

The unit to which Presley refers is the model LLT-40, truck-mounted low-headroom drill from drilling specialists Bay Shore Systems Inc. Mounted on a 254-in. wheelbase chassis, the unit offers drilling depths of 48 ft. (14.6 m), yet features an overhead mast height of less than 21 ft. (6.4 m). Bay Shore Systems is one of the drilling industry’s foremost designers and manufacturers of drilling equipment for low-clearance applications. According to Jim Tippett, the company’s general manager, the LLT-40 was a natural extension of that expertise.

“Over the years, customers familiar with the LoDril’s power and compact profile, have approached us about offering a truck-mounted version of that design. So when TCD came to us with a similar request, it seemed to make the most sense: they are a high-profile customer and could ultimately put it to the best test in the field, so to speak. Since that first delivery, we have received a number of inquiries for additional units.”

TCD took delivery of its machine in January and immediately began to capitalize on the benefits it offered them over their existing drill.

“The unit in place at that time was a standard pressure drill and, while it could drill to 60-ft. depths, it also had a mast height of better than 32 ft. That made it impossible for us to do any work under utility lines without killing power to that area first. The new LoDril alleviates that issue without getting the utilities involved. In addition, the vehicle length is 29-ft., which means moving the new unit between projects is fast and easy — we no longer have to deal with over-length permitting issues.”

Meeting New Specs

While relatively compact in size and design, TCD’s LoDril still affords the company many of the same strengths available to them with their older pressure drill. Presley said this is important given recently revised specs which are now in place in Florida.

“Since the hurricanes of 2004, the specs which cover drilling for signage, signals and so on, were beefed up. Today, many of our projects call for 72-inch diameter, 42-foot deep holes. The LoDril does 72-inch diameters easily and can drill to depths of 48 feet, so we were not sacrificing any size/depth performance at all in making the switch.”

Because TCD’s unit was the first LLT-40 Bay Shore Systems placed into service, the occasional “hiccup” was anticipated, did occur, and, said Presley, was impressively resolved.

“We had an issue early on in which a controller was giving us problems. Bay Shore had a service person here that same evening and had us back in action the following day. If there was a word better than ’exemplary’ to describe the way they handled that, I’d use it.”

Presley added that there have not been any real problems since that incident — despite the fact that the LoDril rarely gets a day off.

“It’s really a nice fit for our operation,” he said. “It makes us that much better suited to the jobs out there, and helps send the message that we are the best at what we do and are continually working to stay that way.”

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