Maintenance crews responsible for highways at lower elevations are looking forward to using it new snowplow equipment.
The Colorado Department of Transportation introduced two new pieces of equipment to its fleet in Southwest and south-central Colorado last year. Dubbed the “tow plow,” the equipment is used on highways in Southwest Colorado during winter.
“Our operators were trained and anxious to use the tow plows last winter,” maintenance supervisor Billy McDermott, of CDOT Durango, said in a news release. “However, last year’s lack of heavy snows limited the use of this new equipment. We’re ready for more snow this year and will be able to do more with less. It will be a great advantage to clear more miles in less time.”
The tow plow is a trailer equipped with a plow blade, which is pulled by a snowplow truck. The driver can swing the tow plow out to the right of the road, in order to double the coverage area when used in tandem with the truck’s blade. The trailer also carries a tank of sand or liquid de-icer that will be used as needed.
The blade of a regular snowplow is 10 feet wide, and the new tow plows can clear an additional 12 feet. The overall length of truck and tow plow is 70 feet.
Tow plows will typically be followed by an additional snowplow and a CDOT supervisor’s vehicle.
To a driver following a tow plow, it might appear that the plow is “jackknifing,” said Ronnie Medina, CDOT Alamosa maintenance supervisor. “But the snowplow driver is actually swinging out the towed trailer..”
The tow plows will be equipped with flashing lights and will travel at 30-35 mph. Motorists are not allowed to pass a tow plow, CDOT said.
In Southwest Colorado, the tow plow zone is in all directions from Durango on U.S. Highways 160, 550, 285 and 50.