“The local governments here within Orleans County are good at sharing equipment,” said Mike Neidert, Highway Superintendent for the Town of Albion. “There are about 10 neighboring towns that we share equipment with. For example, the town of Clarendon has shared some attachments with us, and we own a road-widener with the town of Gaines that we use to put shoulders on roads for other towns. We try to collaborate with our neighbors – why buy something when you have someone willing to share with you? This is reciprocal to the extent possible. Also, the county has large excavators and a dozer that we have borrowed for certain larger projects.”
One piece of equipment that the Albion township highway department will get plenty of use from itself is its Hyundai HL955A Wheel Loader, acquired early this year after the town received a $180,000 State and Municipal Facilities grant from the state of New York. Neidert said his department began the grant process in 2018.
“Getting a new loader is a big expense, so we submitted a proposal to the state for a grant, which was a long process, but the grant was finally approved last year,” Neidert explained. “We went out for bids on the new machine, but our Hyundai dealer – George and Swede Sales and Service in nearby Pavilion, New York – had the best bid, and that was our preference, due to the good experience we had with our previous Hyundai wheel loader. Plus, we got a very generous trade-in from George and Swede on that machine.”
Neidert, a 26-year veteran of the Albion town highway department, stood for election six years ago to the office of Town Highway Superintendent and won re-election four years later. The town of Albion comprises 25 square miles, including the village of Albion. The township’s rural population is 3,000, compared with the 6,000 residents of the village. In all, the department is responsible for the maintenance of 46 miles of paved roadways.
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“We’re a small department,” Neidert said, “In addition to me, we have two full-time and one part-time equipment operators, so we’re all trained to operate all the equipment.”
With a relatively small equipment fleet, Neidert knows that versatility is one of the keys to productivity. That goes for the department’s hydraulic excavator, one backhoe, and three 10-wheel dump trucks, in addition to the new HL955A wheel loader. A variety of attachments will keep the new wheel loader busy 12 months a year across a range of applications.
The wheel loader is equipped with a quick coupler to facilitate fast, easy and safe exchange of attachments, which include the standard 3.5-cubic-yard Werk Brau general purpose bucket; a 3-cubic-yard clamshell bucket for tree and brush pickup; a front boom for picking and setting heavy objects, such as sewer pipe; a 10-foot-wide Pro-Tech Sno-Pusher box attachment for moving snow; and a road-widener attachment.
The road-widener is a holdover from the town’s previous wheel loader, a 1999 Hyundai HL760. It attaches to the front of the loader and in turn attaches to a truck that loads it with oil-mixed crushed stone, gravel, or sand, depending on the project. Bringing up the rear for this team of equipment is a vibratory roller to compact the material.
“When we were spec’ing the new wheel loader, George and Swede sent one of their mechanics out here to get a firsthand understanding of our road-widener attachment to make sure the HL955A could accommodate it without any special engineering,” Neidert recalled.
Taking delivery of the new wheel loader in January 2022 gave Neidert’s crew several opportunities to use it with the Sno-Pusher, “mostly for cleaning up drifts around major road intersections, clearing out around fire hydrants and plowing the town hall parking lot and the highway garage complex,” said Neidert. “The Hyundai loader has plenty of power for snow pushing and plowing, and it has a very responsive transmission.”
Having put 20 years of hard work on the town’s previous Hyundai loader, Neidert said he had a high comfort level with the brand. “That old HL760 was a great machine, but the time had come to replace it with something newer and with new technology. We’re definitely pleased with the HL955A. The cab is set up great – very comfortable, heated seat, good visibility. The controls are well-located and intuitive to use, and there’s obviously plenty of power for digging, pushing, lifting, and loading. I expect we’ll put around 500 hours per year on this machine. Based on past experience, that should be no problem.”
Will any of the neighboring town highway departments get an opportunity to add a few more working hours? Time will tell.