District 1 crews develop innovative way
They say necessity is the Mother of invention. A few years ago, the Kootenai River flooding in Boundary County provided the perfect opportunity for some very innovative thinking on the part of county and ITD maintenance crews.
As the water levels in the river quickly rose, it became apparent that filling sandbags by hand was not keeping up with demand. That’s when the idea struck. ITD mechanic Mark Elliston and county shop foreman Terry Johnson knew there had to be a better, more efficient way, of filling sandbags, using a sander truck to fill the bags. After getting approval from foreman Jack Rupley, Mark designed a funnel-shaped device that attached to the sander box.
The prototype was assembled using pieces of scrap metal, and immediately put into service. What had been a labor intensive and time consuming job, now took mere seconds to accomplish.
This past winter’s heavy snowfall had local disaster services personnel nervously monitoring water levels throughout northern Idaho. In Kootenai County, disaster planning included stockpiling filled sandbags near potential flooding areas. The District 1 shop manufactured three more sandbag fillers, using a refined design and more sturdy materials.
As with other innovative ideas District 1 has developed, several districts around the state have expressed an interest in copying the design or ordering ones that are ready-made. Designed to mount onto the Department’s 10-wheeler sanding trucks, the sandbag filler has truly proved its worth, helping crews work more efficiently, saving time and money.