Business Center

In Photos: The Regional Roadeos of CDOT

By Niles Koenigsberg and Vivian Engen, Process Improvement Intern

July 13, 2018

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A Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) employee navigates through the tandem plow course at the Region 3 maintenance Roadeo in Kremmling. The concept of the “roadeo” originated in the 1950s, as competitive driving events where motorists completed an obstacle course in their vehicle as quickly as possible. In the context of CDOT, roadeos are regional competitions where CDOT employees test their ability to operate maintenance vehicles (e.g. snow plows, skidsteers, graders, loaders, etc.) through an obstacle course with accuracy in the a shortest time. The Lean Everyday Ideas team, a team focused on innovative practices within CDOT, attended seven of these events around the state of Colorado in the spring of 2018.
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Geneva Hooten and Laura James were the proud Lean Everyday Idea (LEI) representatives at the Durango Region 5 Roadeo. The LEI team attended all seven regional roadeos to spread awareness of CDOT innovations and the LEI program, engage CDOT employees, and gather insightful feedback from CDOT maintenance staff. At each roadeo, the LEI team setup a booth that had a plethora of innovation information, LEI swag, and candy to encourage friendly interactions between the LEI team and maintenance staff.
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Vivi Engen spreads awareness about the Lean Everyday Ideas program at an innovation booth. CDOT maintenance employees were eager to participate, which made it easy to distribute information about how and where to submit ideas on the LEI website. Talking with folks out in the field revealed that a lot of CDOT employees unknowingly use innovations in their work every day. Small improvements, such as coating equipment in a rust prevention product, are sometimes considered by innovators as too simple to submit. But, those small changes tend to make the greatest impact!
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Niles Koenigsberg discusses the Hydraulic Fluid Box (black) and the Plow Guide Markers (orange) with two curious CDOT employees at the Region 3 Kremmling Roadeo.  In addition to displaying in-person innovations at Roadeos, the LEI team created 10 innovation flyers to highlight top innovations from around the state. The goal of the flyers was to highlight ideas that have been vetted and successfully implemented in one region, and spread them to other regions around the state. At the Region 4 Roadeo in Platteville, two CDOT employees left with a new Delineator Straightener picked up from the storeroom, after seeing that innovation highlighted at the LEI booth.
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Vivi Engen distributes surveys to CDOT employees as they wait to compete in an event at the Region 2 Roadeo in Pueblo. The LEI program understands that the idea of continuous improvement applies to the program as well, and the team capitalized on the opportunity to collect valuable, on-the-ground feedback from frontline employees. In total, 165 surveys were completed. The results provided direction and awareness on what areas we need to improve. These surveys will help the LEI program forge forward and inch closer to the CDOT value of Excellence.

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Continuous improvement is always a two-way conversation. Many CDOT employees, like Matthew Etter (pictured above), had the opportunity to engage with the LEI team in thoughtful discussions about their innovations at these events. Matt developed a Traffic Control Box and jumped at the chance to show off his handiwork and share his innovation with the LEI team at the Region 3 Roadeo in Grand Junction. His Control Box is easily mounted on a flatbed truck and ensures the safe transport of maintenance tools and equipment while keeping CDOT employees and the traveling public safe.

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This is Todd Natale, another Lean Everyday Ideas Innovator. Todd created the T-Post Puller as a solution to the time-consuming and dangerous task of removing a T-Post. Todd brought his T-Post to the R2 Roadeo in Pueblo to have on display at the LEI booth. He explained to fellow CDOT employees how his innovation saves time and money, reduces the risk of injury, and is easy to implement. The idea card was created to spread Todd’s idea when he isn’t around to explain it himself.
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While each roadeo only lasted a day, it didn’t take long to start feeling like we were right at home. The maintenance staff took us in, talked with us, laughed with us, and made us feel like part of their community. From a taco bar in Grand Junction (left) to a grill out in the Platteville barn (right), delicious home-cooked meals were just one of the factors contributing to the overwhelming sense of community at the regional Roadeos.

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One of the roadeo highlights for the LEI team was the opportunity to operate vehicles and large equipment through the set course. Above, Vivi drives a tandem plow and Niles operates an excavator.  While sitting in the driver’s seat was fun, it also provided a new perspective on the challenges that maintenance staff faces every day on the road. From the size and complexity of the tandem plow cab to the finesse required to control an excavator, the LEI team gleaned new respect for the challenging work of maintenance employees after struggling through the tasks themselves.
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While the roadeo competitions stayed constant, the weather did not. From bone-chilling rain in Durango to scorching 90 degree days, or even squinting through a vehement dust storm in Grand Junction, no conditions were too intense to postpone the competition.

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Vivi and Chris Ukowich, Region 4 LEI Lead, pose with his Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) mid-flight. Chris has a passion for flying UAVs and hopes to see them further integrated into CDOT’s work. At the Platteville Roadeo, Chris captured aerial photos and videos to provide a unique birds-eye view perspective of the event. Click on the image to see one of Chris’ UAV videos!

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Robert Pauletich and Daniel Raffensperger, two Region 3 mechanics, hand-crafted awards for the Grand Junction roadeo event winners. First, second, and third place champions are determined by the participant scores which are based on their number of errors; in the event of a tie, their course times act as tiebreakers. The first and second place winners in each event from every region advanced to the Statewide Roadeo, taking place in August 2018.

To see additional roadeo photos, please view our Roadeo Flickr Album.