PennDOT Honors Pair of Warren County Employees for Innovative Ideas


The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) recently recognized a pair of Warren County employees and others with Innovation Awards for their efforts to improve work practices and create efficiencies.

Nine team members from PennDOT’s District 1, which represents Crawford, Erie, Forest, Mercer, Venango, and Warren counties, were among the honorees.

“PennDOT has a strong legacy of creativity to help us meet our daily mission and goals,” said PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian. “I’m proud to recognize these employees for their creativity and dedication to the department.”

Employees were recognized for ideas and smart practices submitted through IdeaLink and WorkSmart, online suggestion systems that allow employees to share their ideas and efficient work practices. Over the last decade, PennDOT staff have submitted more than 3,300 ideas through IdeaLink, several hundred of which have been implemented. Since 2016, more than 230 smart practices have been published in PennDOT’s WorkSmart system.

Daniel Benson, transportation equipment operator, and David A. Schwartz Jr., welder, employees at the Warren County facility, were recognized for creating a spreader chute. The aluminum spreader is an attachment used in Warren and Forest counties to fill low shoulders along the roadway without having to remove the spreader. The chute directs material off the roadway to fill low spots while keeping the truck on the roadway.

“Our District 1 team is always looking for ways to enhance efficiency and safety for our employees and our customers. These honorees demonstrate how those innovations can be for everyday operations as well as long-term improvements,” said Brian McNulty, District 1 Executive.

Gramian and other department executives honored winners during a ceremony in Harrisburg on Nov. 30.

Crawford County garage staff Jeffrey Hershelman, automotive mechanic supervisor; Anthony Matola, maintenance repairman; Bradley Piper, equipment operator; Kody Kantz, automotive mechanic; Garret Boylan, tradesman helper; and Matthew C. Semian, highway equipment manager were recognized for used the body parts off a mechanically unusable crew cab to replace broken parts on functioning crew cabs. They successfully developed an in-house repair system that can source parts statewide from PennDOT’s equipment fleet. This process of reusing parts from other equipment saves PennDOT time and money by avoiding having to buy a whole new vehicle.

Samuel Jonathan Moehler, civil engineer at the District 1 office in Oil City was recognized for suggesting an idea born from knowledge of railroads and bridge project costs – the use of old flat cars as temporary or permanent bridge replacements on low traffic and local roads.

Along with offering a lower-cost solution for local governments, the idea also provides a way to recycle unused rail cars and reopen local bridges that otherwise might remain closed or even removed. This idea has been added to PennDOT Publication 447, Approved Products for Lower Volume Local Roads, as a possible solution for municipalities looking for alternatives to a more costly traditional bridge replacement.