Keaton Fox, NBC 5 News
The North Texas Tollway Authority has come up with a truck designed to make the process of putting out orange work zone barrels faster and safer for workers by keeping off the road.
No one likes being stuck in construction, and no one who works in construction wants to be struck in construction, so the North Texas Tollway Authority designed a construction vehicle that is faster at picking up orange barrels.
"We tried everything from cranes to large magnets to anything we could have," said Eric Hemphill, interim director of maintenance.
The NTTA decided to design something from scratch. Workers there came up with a truck that automates the cone process, keeping workers off the road and speeding up the process.
"The idea was, we're tucked in safely, the cage allows the person not to be hanging over the side or the back of a truck, allowing a safer work area," said Hemphill.
Workers said they love the truck and how they're better protected from cars that are whizzing by.
"When we are in this truck, we feel safer knowing you're not going to hit us," said maintenance worker Carlos Sosa.
And while worker safety is paramount, getting the construction barrels out of the way faster is also important.
"We can save up to 30 minutes closing down a lane and using barrel instead of cones, which is safer for both the drivers and the employees," said Hemphill. "Thirty minutes may not sound like a long time unless you're the one stuck in that lane closure."
Hemphill and other NTTA managers said they think they have a hit on their hands. They're so proud they want a patent for their idea.
The patent process could take years, and even if they don't get it, they're OK with it because the truck saves time, money and lives.