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Maine Front Runner Project

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection has recently approved Federal funding for a six county project to address gravel road maintenance in lake watersheds by providing training, equipment, and technical assistance for camp road residents, municipal officials, contractors and others to significantly reduce phosphorus loading to these public waterbodies. The grant was awarded to the Franklin County Soil and Water Conservation District which will implement the project, beginning this summer, in cooperation with the Soil and Water Conservation Districts in Androscoggin, Cumberland, Kennebec,Oxford and York Counties.

The project will demonstrate practical techniques to properly grade and maintain gravel roads to minimize erosion of road surfaces. At least eighteen roads will be treated during this first year of the project.

Grant funds are being used to purchase three Front Runner road rake units to be utilized on a short-term no cost loan basis by volunteers. One day training sessions will be provided in each of the six counties to those volunteers who are willing and able to donate time and equipment (3/4 or 1 ton vehicle with an 8 foot Fisher 25" push tab snowplow mount) for surface grading. District staff and the Project Coordinator will provide site specific technical assistance as necessary.

For more information on this exciting project, or to volunteer your road, your truck and your services, please call ...

Front Runner Description

The Front Runner grader/rake is an attachment that fits onto the front of pickup trucks in place of the snowplow. It is used for road grading and maintenance, site cleanup, landscaping, finish grading and snow removal on soft roads.

Front Runner consists of a row of heavy duty, flexible, spring steel tines individually bolted to a rugged, welded steel frame. A set of adjustable gauge wheels is attached to this frame ahead of the tines for support. The entire attachment mounts ahead of the operating vehicle, forming the configuration of a miniature road grader. It is controlled by the truck's snowplow hydraulic hoist.

Front Runner has the advantage of improved visibility and control over rear mounted attachments. The spring steel tines allow faster operating speeds than a bucket or blade because of their "forgiveness", plus they have the ability to separate and remove debris ahead of the vehicle so that it will not have to drive over the debris as happens with a rear mounted or towed device.

The most powerful feature that all users have discovered, aside from its time saving capability, ease of operation and its ability to provide outstanding results, is its versatility.

Front Runner has proven itself to be more effective than most conventional methods because it:

  • penetrates the surface and can be controlled better than rear mounted attachments
  • works faster than a blade because of the "forgiveness" (flexibility) of the tines
  • outperforms bucket loaders or other machines that require back dragging
  • provides a true grading action unlike most drags which cannot cut out potholes
  • restores crown by pulling material from shoulders and separates unwanted debris
  • compensates for lack of material by processing on-site materials into good gravel
  • plows early and late winter snowstorms when snowplows would dig up the surface
  • gets you onto your roads earlier in the spring when they are too soft to support a grader or other equipment. Not only does this help shape the surface sooner, but it also helps dry it out.