Clearing culverts with a remotely-controlled skid steer

Clearing culverts with a remotely-controlled skid steer

By David Woodfill / ADOT Communications
March 12, 2024
A remotely-controlled skid steer is parked in an equipment garage.

This funny looking machine may look like a droid from Star Wars, but it’s actually a remotely operated skid steer. 

And while its appearance may evoke visions of a galaxy far, far away, it has a very practical and valuable use here on Earth. ADOT’s skid steers are used mainly for cleaning out overgrowth, mud, and trash underneath bridges.

Gone are the days of cleaning such spaces with hand tools, said Jerry Turner, an ADOT Highways Operations Technician Supervisor.

“This machine can do in one day what would take a team of employees to do in a week,” Turner said. 

So what’s the difference between a remote skid steer and a regular skid steer? For one thing, the remotely controlled skid steer moves around on tracks like a tank rather than wheels. That’s helpful when working in muddy conditions. 

The remote skid steer is also smaller than a regular skid steer with a seated driver, so it can fit into tight enclosures such as under a bridge and inside drainage culverts.

Finally, by removing the operator from the equation, it increases safety. Crawling under bridges and into drainage culverts can pose health hazards and dangers such as snakes and sewer gasses that can make people sick. 

ADOT has two remote skid steers at its disposal amd they get a lot of use in various locations around the state. 

Turner was out with a maintenance crew one cold January morning clearing culverts along State Route 87 just north of Mesa.

The machine darted in and out from underneath a bridge, each time carrying a load of muck consisting of trash, mud and vegetation that had clogged it up and prevented water from flowing.

An operator controlled the machine from about 25 feet away up the embankment using a control deck with buttons and joysticks. 

In each pass under the bridge, the skid steer came away with enough debris in its scoop to fill a large bathtub. 

Turner was confident his crew would have the job done within the afternoon, as opposed to several days, which is how long it would take with shovels. 

“This has been a game changer,” Turner said. “This saves a lot of money that would otherwise be spent on additional manpower.”


A post shared by Arizona DOT (@arizona_dot)

Related Tags