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2021 Mousetrap Winner - Innovative Project Award

The Hopper

Jones County, IA

Download 2021 Booklet as PDF

According to Jones County, IA, routine maintenance of shoulders on the paved system has always presented issues. The application of stone along the shoulders was a slow process, and the stone was not uniformly applied. Cleanup after shoulder stone application was time consuming and the equipment used for the application required a lot of maintenance. Jones County needed a new solution. “We are a secondary road department, similar to hundreds of others, and don’t have the ability to purchase huge pieces of equipment,” said Todd Postel with Jones County.

The department began its search for a solution by looking at the Iowa Department of Transportation’s method of applying stone on their shoulders. According to Todd, “They use a device that requires them to change out the end gate on their dump trucks and place flutes in the dump box. We began sketching a prototype that eliminated the inefficiencies and constructed our device to use the existing dump box tailgate that’s on all our trucks so it would be universal, and no dump box flutes would be required.”

Jones County calls its attachment device the “Hopper.” It is designed with sloped sides, a Teflon liner, and a vibrator to ensure material flows down the chute and onto the shoulder. It also has a fully adjustable plate to accommodate elevation differences from the hard-surfaced road to the shoulder. “We now have three of them that were developed in-house. The only challenge we faced developing the Hopper was keeping it level. The rest was pretty straightforward,” said Todd.

Shoulder maintenance is a high priority for Jones County, with shoulder edge drop-off as a major safety issue. Using the Hopper devices will result in less material wasted and reduced labor and equipment costs, and will produce more lane miles covered and increase safety for residents. “Our advice to other agencies is to not be scared to try something new or different. Keep the communication open, bridge the gap, and eliminate the fears. Testing the product is key,” said Todd.

Congratulations to Jones County as the FHWA 2021 Build a Better Mousetrap Innovative Project Award recipient.

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