Minnesota Department of
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St. Paul, MN 55155-1899
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New snow removal ‘tow plow’ technology to be used on area highways
ST. PAUL, Minn.—When the winter storm predicted for this weekend hits, the Minnesota Department of Transportation will strike back with its arsenal of snow-fighting tools, including three revolutionary tow plows.
The tow plows can clear a huge swath through fallen and drifted snow. They combine conventional left- and front-mounted plow blades with a blade 26 feet wide that swings out from behind the truck like a scorpion’s tail.
When fully configured, a tow plow can clear two and half highway lanes or two lanes and part of the shoulder.
Mn/DOT first used the tow plow on freeways in the Twin Cities including the heavily traveled Interstate 94 corridor last winter.
The innovative new plow proved so effective that the department purchased four more, said Mark Fischbach, clear roads superintendent with Mn/DOT’s Metro District.
“They make our work much more efficient and flexible,” Fischbach said. “Each tow plow can clear more traffic lanes, freeing another plow to work on another route or respond to emergency situations.”
Mn/DOT now has three of the plows operating from stations in St. Cloud, Monticello and Maple Grove. Two more tow plows are now being readied for service.
Fischbach said the tow plows and other snow fighting tools are invaluable, but they are most effective with support from motorists.
“The combination of a heavy snowfall and strong winds makes driving safely and thoughtfully a must,” Fischbach said. “Our snowplow operators are skilled and able. But they rely on motorists to use extreme caution when they are working during storms.”
For example, snowplow operators’ field of vision is severely limited; they must use mirrors to see to the rear and to the side. This makes drivers’ staying behind far enough to be seen by operators critical.
Bob Winter, Mn/DOT’s operations director, offers the following suggestions for safe winter driving:
- When it snows and gets slippery, drivers should slow down and pay attention.
- Use patience and drive according to road conditions. Drive defensively.
- Stay back, stay alive. Give the plows room to work.
- Take note of mileposts, exit numbers or crossroads in case your vehicle slides off the road or involved in a crash so law enforcement officers and plow operators can find it more easily.
- Travel with passengers or form a convoy for safety rather than driving alone.
- Stay behind and back from snowplows. When necessary, pass snowplows with extreme care.
- Know the road. Traveler information is available by calling 511 or on the Internet at www.511mn.org. Dial up or log on for road conditions and other travel information.