Wednesday, January 20, 2016

‘Tow-plow’ is MoDOT’s secret weapon

Since 2005, the Missouri Department of Transportation has been deploying a homegrown solution to help speed up ice and snow removal on highways and interstates.

As radio station KCUR reports, MoDOT deploys a “tow-plow” to double the coverage of snow removal from the standard 14 feet of a conventional snow plow to more than 25 feet.

You can see the plow at work here in this video:

The station interviewed Bob Lannert, a retired MoDOT engineer based out of Kansas City, who is credited with inventing the tow-plow as a way for the DOT to provide more snow removal services with fewer people and trucks.

“The thinking was, let’s double the production of an operator, plow at least twice as wide so that we can get more done and release some of those trucks out of the gangs or the multiple truck gangs and go plow ramps and other things,” Lannert told the station.

The plow sticks out lengthwise behind a standard snow removal truck. By throwing some switches, the tow-plow pivots out from behind like a large wing.

Lannert said the goal was to make “a trailer of steering axles and steer it into the other lane and it looked like a jackknifed truck going down the road safely.” When not actively deployed, the contraption is able to clear a 10-foot tollbooth, and then it can unfold and clear 24 feet of roadway.

The report notes that Missouri has around 80 of these vehicles deployed statewide. They’ve since spread to other states like Minnesota and Tennessee. Have you ever seen one in action? Tell us about it in the comments.