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Fall 2011

City Clears Trail as Users Donate Funds for Attachment

City of Clive

From the comfort of the Toolcat 5600’s heated cab, City of Clive employees make quick work of clearing snow from parking lots and trails with a snowblower attachment. The 5600’s cargo box is a convenient way to transport tools and supplies, too.

Toolcat 5600 utility work machine helps keep 12-mile bike trail open year-round.

A cooperative effort between local government and its citizens is keeping a popular bike trail open during the winter for runners, walkers and cross-country skiers — with the help of a utility work machine.

“I don’t know what we would do without the Toolcat 5600,” says Jeff Thielen, parks maintenance supervisor for Clive, Iowa, a suburb of about 15,000 residents near Des Moines. “It’s such a versatile machine, and it can be used with so many different attachments. We have owned one for almost seven years, and it proves its value every day.”

The 12-mile, paved-surface Greenbelt bike trail traverses the city, generally following the meandering Walnut Creek. Before the Toolcat 5600 was purchased, winter activity on the trail had to wait until the snow melted.

“Runners told the park board and city council that they wanted the snow cleared,” recalls Thielen, “but funding was an issue. The running group came forward and donated the money so we could purchase a Bobcat® snowblower attachment. Now everyone is pleased with what we have done on the bike trail.”

Getting ready for winter

During October the staff has a day-and-a-half snow removal planning and equipment training session. The Toolcat 5600 training kit and video is used every year to educate new operators and provide a refresher course for the veterans. “The materials provided by Bobcat are very valuable,” says Thielen. “It makes training easy.”

Among the procedures that are followed for the bike trail: There has to be at least an inch of snow for work to begin; trail maintenance must be done during regular hours; and the snowblower attachment is for trail use only. Because the city’s maintenance facility is in a park at the start of the trail, no truck or trailer is required to get the Toolcat to the jobsite.

“However, before we get to the bike trail, we have to address our other responsibilities, such as city sidewalks and parking lots and neighborhood cul-de-sacs,” Thielen says. “Once we take care of those areas with our pickup trucks equipped with plows, we can move on to the bike trail.

“We don’t have to trailer the machine because we are fortunate to have our offices in Campbell Park near the start of the bike trail,” he says. “This particular machine was a great choice for us because though it performs many tasks in warmer months, we were able to transition it to snow removal easily.”

It normally takes the city 14 to 16 hours to clear the 10-foot-wide trail. One side of the trail is plowed entirely and then the other as the Toolcat 5600 returns to where it began. Later the portions that run into the neighborhoods are cleared.

“The residents who use the trail in the winter certainly appreciate being able to get back on it within a couple of days after a snowfall,” Thielen says. “Before we had this equipment, at times they had to wait weeks for the snow to melt. With the utility work machine and snowblower — along with several other Bobcat attachments we own — we are able to provide the services the community wants.”