By Tom Smith
South Pittsburgh Reporter Editor 

City officials check out a Madvac to vacuum up litter in South Side


Last updated 7/5/2018 at 9:07am

Jim Ahlborn from A&H Equipment demonstrates a Madvac outdoor litter vacuum in the 1600 block of E. Carson Street last week. The city is considering purchasing one of the mobile litter vacuums for use in the South Side Parking Enhancement District.

Looking like a cross between small versions of a Vacall and a Zamboni, Jim Ahlborn, territory manager for A&H Equipment in Bridgeville, demonstrated a Madvac outdoor litter vacuum for city officials on South Side.

The Madvac, or a similar machine, has been identified as a possible purchase utilizing Parking Enhancement District (PED) funds. The PED has been accumulating money is a dedicated account that can only be used for public safety, public works and infrastructure improvements within South Side.

Ordinance required PED funding be sequestered for the first year before any money could be spent on projects. The year ended in March with about $200,000 collected. After Pittsburgh Parking Authority expenses the PED had $134,000 in the account and continues to build.

Among the proposed expenditures are additional high-resolution surveillance cameras, training for police and bar owners, and the litter vacuum.

Mr. Ahlborn brought his own trash to show the capabilities of the Madvac. Taking the machine onto the sidewalk of the 1500 block of E. Carson, he directed the hydraulic assisted vacuum hose to suck up bottles, cans paper and cigarette butts.

The machine demonstrated its ability to easily maneuver along the sidewalk and is able to climb up and down curbs if necessary.

Mr. Ahlborn noted the Madvac is able to pick up wet trash, but recommended it not be used in large or deep puddles. It utilizes reusable vacuum bags that can be emptied easily by the operator.

Councilman Bruce Kraus and Nighttime Economy Manager Allison Harnden were there to evaluate the capabilities and expressed concerns about noise levels generated by the machine.

Mr. Ahlborn demonstrated the different volumes of noise generated by the Madvac at full and half power, saying it was consistent with that of a street sweeper.

In addition to the model brought in for the demonstration, the line of litter vacuums includes options for wider vacuum nozzles in addition to enclosed cabs and more.

According to specifications on the Madvac LN50, with the optional 48 in. wide vacuum head, it can cover 105,000 sq. feet of territory per hour. It has a capacity of up to 120 gallons of trash and automatically compacts it as it goes.

The wide vacuum head could be used on the sidewalks and removed in a matter of minutes to allow the operator to pick up litter along the curb line on a second pass.

Bill Crean, superintendent of the Dept. of Public Works, requested a week-long tryout of the litter vacuum to determine if the machine would meet South Side's needs. Mr. Ahlborn said it would be possible and would arrange for the test drive.

Mr. Kraus said the litter vacuum would be used on Saturday and Sunday mornings to clean up after Friday and Saturday nights in the neighborhood.

If the city acquires a litter vacuum for South Side through PED funding, it will only be permitted to be used in the neighborhood and will not travel to other communities.

Final cost of the vacuum is dependent on a variety of factors including which model is chosen and what accessories are added. Final cost will be anywhere between $43,000 and $58,000.


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