It's unique, at least in the Southern End.
That's one way to describe Bart Township's latest piece of equipment, a JCB Hydradig excavator.
When it came time to buy a new piece of machinery, township supervisors asked road crew member Mike Wagner to do some research.
"I found Beaver Township in western Pennsylvania has had one for about two years. They posted a YouTube video of it in use, so I called them. They said they bought it two years ago and are very happy with it," he said.
It's the most flexible machine the township could find, supervisor Ed Weidman said.
"It can be used for many different jobs and it's more efficient than a grader or a backhoe," he said. "We looked at the alternatives and, after Mike looked into it, we got one in as a demo and ran it for a couple of days. That showed us its capabilities."
Although the township did not buy many attachments, their availability is another advantage.
"You can get a boom mower that we could use along the rail trail, a tamper, a forestry tool to cut down trees, and a lot more," Weidman said. "A big selling point is that it's a multi-purpose machine. You can get an attachment for $10,000 to $11,000 rather than buying a whole new piece of equipment. It has options to do whatever you want."
Last week, the flexibility was put to good use as the township's road crew installed storm water runoff at the intersection of Hollow Rd. and Dry Wells Rd. A spring on the north side of Dry Wells Rd. runs water through the intersection year around. In the winter, ice forms on the roadway.
The Hydradig, as its name implies, dug the holes for the concrete catch basins, lifted the basins into place, dug the trench for a connecting pipe, and then installed the pipe.
It also proved its worth when the township's crew began cleaning road gutters.
"It allows us to clean the gutters better and more quickly," Wagner said.
The excavator has a top road speed of over 25 miles per hour. It has four-wheel-drive and four-wheel-steering and the cab setup gives the operator a clear view of the site, he said.
Although the machine's boom can reach out 24 feet, the Hydradig's overall short size is another plus.
"Because it pivots in the middle and it's short, we don't have to block two lanes of road like you would with a Gradall [another type of excavator]," Weidman said. "Our roads are narrow, and with this, we don't have to close the road just to work on one side."
But it won't do everything a grader can.
"It won't allow us to reshape [an unpaved] road but we don't have that many of them any more," Wagner said. "But because the grader is not as versatile, we only use it about one month out of the year."
The township bought the machine in late May. It already had 100 hours on it when Bart took ownership. Because it had been used, the township paid $180,000 for the Hydradig.
The Hydradig excavator was introduced in Europe in 2016 and first sold in the United States in 2017.