Drivers in southwest and south-central Colorado will see some unfamiliar snow-clearing equipment on the road this winter, as the state deploys two “tow plows” to the region.
The plows are headed by a conventional snow plow truck. The difference is that the truck also pulls a trailer that can swing out to the side and plow snow as well as apply de-icer. The trailer allows the operator to cover more than twice the width of a traditional snow plow, which has a 10-foot-long blade. The trailer expands the snow-plowing capability to 22 feet. The added width means the Colorado Department of Transportation can clear roads faster and with fewer pieces of equipment.
“We will be able to do more with less,” says Ronnie Medina, CDOT Alamosa maintenance supervisor. “It will be a great advantage to clear more miles in less time.”
The truck and trailer combined are 70 feet long. CDOT cautions drivers not to panic should they be following the tow plow when it deploys the trailer. It might look like the operator has lost control and has jackknifed. “But the snowplow driver is actually swinging out the tow plow trailer to gain area and push as much snow as possible off the highway,” Medina says.
The new tow plows will be equipped with flashing warning lights and will travel around 30 to 35 mph; they will typically be followed by an additional snow plow and a supervisor’s vehicle.
“Motorists are not ever to pass a tow plow and should allow plenty of room for the plows to maneuver,” CDOT says.
The tow plows will be used on U.S. Highways 160, 550, 285 and 50, near Durango, Monte Vista, Alamosa, Blanca, Fort Garland, La Veta Pass, Poncha Springs and Salida during winter months, according to CDOT.