InTrans / Sep 08, 2021

Iowa Build a Better Mousetrap Winners named

Jones County’s stone placement apparatus
Crawford County’s excavator bucket extension

Jones, Crawford counties also earn national recognition for innovative projects

The Jones County Secondary Roads Department has been testing and research equipment options that would improve shoulder maintenance but never found more than marginal advantages. Their persistence paid off this year, and their solution earned them the top award in the 2021 Iowa Build a Better Mousetrap (BABM) competition.

Jones County staff developed an apparatus for stone placement that they expect will result in less material wasted, reduced labor and equipment costs, and produce more lane miles covered when they test it out in the field this season. It was developed after staff saw the Iowa DOT’s District 6 maintenance method and the fabrication team got to work on sketches and eventually production of the units.

Across the state, Crawford County had a different problem with a different kind of stone.

Staff there were looking for a less challenging means of placing riprap beneath bridges near abutments. Due to clearance and slope issues, this can be a difficult process.

The county’s bridge crew staff ultimately developed and fabricated an excavator bucket extension using a section of heavy boilerplate pipe that could be fitted to the bucket of a CAT 323F excavator to simplify the process. Their invention earned them second place in the 2021 BABM competition.

Both counties were recognized at the ICEA Mid-Year Conference in July and received free workshop registrations. Their recognition extended outside of Iowa.

During the National Local & Tribal Technical Assistance Program Association (NLTAPA) summer conference in July, the FHWA announced that Jones County’s invention had won the national BABM competition in the Innovative Project category. Crawford County earned the honorable mention in the same category.

More details about this year’s innovations, as well as previous years’ winners in Iowa, are available here.

If you think you have an innovative solution to an everyday challenge, learn more about the BABM competition and get a head start on applying for 2022 here.