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09/02/01: 'Litter Picker' clears highway of debris without risking worker safety

Company has adapted a device that has been used to rid beaches of litter to become of device to work on roads and highways as well. Its prime advantage is worker safety.

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Question: What do a sandy beach and a paved roadway have in common? Answer: It's difficult to keep either free of litter.

Recognizing that similarity helped H. Barber & Sons, a Naugatuck, CT, company, develop a product line expansion that is drawing attention across the country.

Barber's "Surf Rake" has been cleaning beaches for the past 34 years, according to its makers. The company's LP 200 Litter Picker, adapted from that beach cleaning technology, is now doing the same thing for roads and highways. And, says Barber, it's providing an added degree of safety as well.

All kinds of road debris can be handled by LP200

Roadway debris is often picked up by workers exposed to risk on the pavement. Tires, boards, "rubber alligators" (large truck tire retread pieces), trash bags, milk cartons, mufflers, hubcaps, assorted pieces of metal and plastic, and five gallon buckets are just a few kinds of debris that are easily handled by the LP200.

Because the Litter Picker is run from inside the towing vehicle, it improves worker safety. The Litter Picker gathers, hoists, collects, and dumps litter and debris at a top speed of 18 mph. A one-ton pickup, a highway dump truck, or anything in between tows the LP200 at highway speeds up to 55 mph.

It cleans an 8½-ft swath. A 21-hp, water-cooled diesel engine powers the gutter brushes and bar flight conveyor fitted with steel tines, which lift the debris from the pavement. The conveyor elevates it and dumps it into a four-cubic yard hopper that can be raised to eight feet for dumping.

CALTRANS contract led to changes in design

The LP200 was introduced a couple of years ago, but a recent contract from the California Department of Transportation (CALTRANS) helped the company change the original design significantly.

Company official James Barber says the changes have resulted in a much improved product. "It's capable of meeting the most stringent safety requirements," Barber said. "It's also now adaptable to all types of towing vehicles. Daily operation is safer and easier. And maintenance time is greatly reduced."

Among the safety improvements is a braking system which engages automatically should the LP200 separate from its towing vehicle for any reason. The company also added higher strength safety chains with special locking clasp hooks to ensure the Litter Picker stays hooked up.

Finally, a government certified lighting system was incorporated. Performance was also improved with the addition of an adjustable and extended pintel towing hitch. This new hitch allows trucks of varying heights and configurations to tow the Litter Picker.

In addition to the dozen in the CALTRANS contract, the company has sold LP200s to the states of Nevada, Oregon, and New Mexico. A modified version of the machine, the LP1, has been sold to the states of North Carolina, South Carolina and Alabama, to a county in Florida, and to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The New York Port Authority uses several Barber LP1s at Kennedy International airport to remove debris from runways.

'We're looking for least worker exposure ...'

Donald Sizemore, CALTRANS District 7 Superintendent, said the primary factor in choosing the LP200 is that it keeps workers off the road and away from speeding cars. "We were looking for the least worker exposure to traffic that we could possibly have," Sizemore explained. "The LP200s gave us this economically and efficiently. They are the best solution to safety we've found."

CALTRANS District 7 Highway Maintenance Supervisor Norris Lewis says of the Barber Litter Pickers, "They're easy to tow and handle. Takes about a half a day to train someone to use one. I love 'em, and my crews love 'em." CALTRANS officials are requesting funds to purchase more Litter Pickers in the next California budget.

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