More than 100 N.C. Department of Transportation employees sharpened their techniques maneuvering heavy equipment around obstacles during a training exercise last week.
The 110 employees hailed mostly from the maintenance and bridge offices for Highway Division 4, which covers Edgecombe, Halifax, Johnston, Nash, Wayne and Wilson.
The annual safety “roadeo” is a friendly competition meant to hone the employees’ driving and operating skills, so they are better prepared using heavy equipment in real situations.
“This is another training tool for our workers, and to maybe show off a little bit behind the wheel of some very big equipment,” said Deborah Leonard, the Division 4 safety engineer who oversees the roadeo. “We look forward to doing this every year.”
For three days this week, they steered dump trucks and tractor mowers around orange cones and glided motor graders that plucked tennis balls off tiny posts. In another category, they operated the arm and boom of a backhoe tractor to drop golf balls into a tube. Judges watched and scored the drivers’ progress, deducting points when they made a mistake or hit a cone. They also awarded points when drivers performed well in a category.
These highest-scoring drivers won, with their work area within Division 4 listed:
- Single-axle dump truck: Donnie Taylor, Johnston County bridge maintenance
- Crane: John Barefoot, Wayne County maintenance
- Tandem-axle dump truck: Kyle Sanders, Johnston County maintenance
- Tractor mower: Marshall New, Nash County maintenance
- Motor grader: Dan Evans, Nash County maintenance
- Backhoe tractor: Clifton Jenkins, Wilson County maintenance
- Lowboy truck trailer: Wayne Boone, Heavy Operations
Gus Tulloss, the Division 4 representative on the N.C. Board of Transportation, announced the winners on Thursday, which culminated the competition. In addition, Division 4 Engineer Ronnie Keeter and Tim Little, the department’s chief engineer, were on hand to recognize the winners and other participants Thursday.
The department’s other highway divisions will hold their safety roadeos this spring, and the winners will compete for the state championship in Raleigh in June.