After a nearly two decade drought, equipment operators from the West Virginia Department of Transportation took home the first place team trophy in the “Best Overall” category at the Southeast Regional ROADeo in late September in Beckley, WV.
[Above photo by the WVDOT]
The equipment operators ROADeo is a training and safety conference in which leading equipment operators from 11 southeastern states compete on a course designed to test their skills. States take turns hosting the conference, with judges from each state participating in scoring each year.
Equipment operators compete as a team and as individuals across six events during the ROADeo contest: single axle truck, tandem axle truck, lowboy trailer, motor grader, backhoe, and tractor mower. Truck events involve running an obstacle course, parallel parking, and seeing how close drivers can back up to a bay.
West Virginia won first place overall among the 11 states in the region, with Tennessee taking second place and South Carolina coming in third. Each equipment team from the participating state departments of transportation also shared knowledge, skills, and strategies for keeping their workers safe in on the ground situations.
Workers from WVDOT’s West Virginia Department of Highways not only took home the team trophy – as judged by their peers from other states engaged in the ROADeo competition – they also took home first place in the single axle dump truck and tractor truck with lowboy events as well.
“This year, West Virginia won the trophy, and I couldn’t be more proud,” said WVDOT Secretary Jimmy Wriston in a statement. “I have never seen a group want something so badly, work so hard, and work together so well. This is the epitome of what the Governor [Jim Justice] talks about; ‘Know the difference between effort and achievement,’ because they put the effort out, and they achieved. I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
He added that the ROADeo contest “is really valuable because it demonstrates the skill level of our operators,” with this year’s Best Overall win demonstrating that “they are the best in the country.”
The skill level required to both qualify for the ROADeo competition and to win is extremely high.
For example, in the backhoe event, operators must use a tiny spoon attached to the backhoe to pick up a golf ball and drop it into a cup. Meanwhile, the motor grader event involves knocking tennis balls off a tube with the grader blade without knocking over the tube, while the tractor mower event involves driving a tractor towing a mower through an obstacle course – both forward and backward.
All of the activities in the ROADeo competition are designed to mirror what highway crews actually do on the roads – and it demonstrates the highly skilled level of operators serving in today’s state DOTs, stressed WVDOT’s Wriston.
“It was a fantastic couple of days,” he added. “The skill level was off the charts. It literally takes your breath away to watch how precise these guys can maneuver these things, and perform these operations with this equipment.”