Build a Better Mousetrap
What is the competition?
"Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door,” is a famous phrase credited to Ralph Waldo Emerson in the early nineteenth century. This expression shows that even having a slightly better solution to a problem can itself be a very valuable discovery. Because the innovative ideas of local agencies and frontline workers are greatly sought after, Kansas LTAP is hosting the Build a Better Mousetrap competition. This platform is for transportation professionals to share their inventions which enhance the efficiency of everyday work and improve the overall quality of transportation. We want to see your MacGyver inventions!
How do I win?
The top three winners will be based on total costs and savings, benefits to the community and the environment, transferability, ingenuity, and effectiveness.
Interested in participating?
Submit your idea by May 1, 2024, for a chance to win! All candidates' entries will be sent to the national competition which disseminates the ideas in an electronic booklet to all LTAP/TTAP Centers. To submit your idea using the application form below.
To enhance the visibility of our stop signs and stop ahead warnings to reduce high speed collisions at intersections.
Maintenance ad Engineering staff met and felt the stop signs and advance warning signs on high travelled roads needed some extra visibility. We implemented a program to enhance them. 1. Stop signs at asphalt to asphalt intersections will be change from 30" to 36". The old signs will be put back in stock to repair older signs that get damaged. 2. The stop sign post will get a red retroreflective strip 3" wide x 48" long placed vertically on the post below the stop sign. 3. All stop ahead sign posts will get a yellow retroreflective strip 3" x 48" placed vertically on the post below the sign. 4. All stop signs with a stop ahead sign will get a red retroreflective strip 3"x48" regardless of the location or size of stop sign.
The disparity between identified capital improvement needs and available financial resources was and is a significant issue. Transportation infrastructure was stretching a limited budget beyond its capacity to do most things well. Due to changes in the agriculture industry, many of our structures had become obsolete. We needed to document a method to prioritize expenditures.
"We developed a road system inside the current system called the Rural Primary Road System that identified areas of high traffic and agricultural use to focus available funding. Road upgrades are based primarily on traffic volumes and correlations between maintainability and soil conditions. "
Learn more about Saline County's win at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ObIh8zV9tHk
Many old wooden boxes less than bridge lengther were coming to the end of their service life. A low-cost alternative was needed.
"We purchase blocks from a concrete supplier, buy and salvage bridge beams. Purchase decking from auctions and supplier. We have built a dozen or so of these over the last ten years and have experienced no issues."
- Labor: 1 week to construct
- Materials: Concrete blocks, beams, decking material
Saline County Road and Bridge recognized the need for an effective way to clean out a low concrete box culvert that would be relatively inexpensive while utilizing equipment they already owned.
"We had an idea for a skid loader attachment that could be hauled to the project in stacked sections and assembled at the worksite on the same trailer used to haul the skid steer loader. We used a local manufacturing company to build the attachment and it cost about $4,000. The ability to clean culverts allows for the free passage of runoff and drainage waters. This saves damages to the roadway and personal property."
Traffic signs like Stop and/or Yield signs get stolen or knocked down often, and must be put back up as soon as the notification is received. The individual responsible for setting it back up may not be able to find the existing hole and/or remove the stub, and cannot dig new holes without one call locates.
"A portable stop or yield sign can be easily transported to the site by one person. Most times, the items needed are not known, and it takes precious time to gather everything you might need. There is no need to gather supplies when responding with the portable sign. The legs adjust to level the sign in steep or uneven ditches, and an extension is used to reach an appropriate height in deep ditches. A few long stakes can tie it to the ground in high winds. We used mostly scrap posts and estimated the cost to be $50 per unit, which includes:
- Labor: 1 hour per unit
- Equipment: Welder, wrenches, drill
- Materials: Square posts, 4 pins, 1 sign, 3 metal stakes, 2 U-bolts, 4 washers
Due to quicker response times to erect, the community is provided a safer intersection in a shorter time. The unit is easily transported in pickup, SUV, car, or utility vehicle. The unit is a saver for responding personnel. Employees don't have to waste time gathering possible needed materials. The unit can be set up in multiple types of terrains by one person."