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Science and Innovations

ADOT Unveils New 'TowPlow' For Winter Snow Operations in Williams


Yesterday’s winter storm was Arizona’s first test of a new kind of snowplow that can clear two lanes at once.

The Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) will run the new equipment—called a TowPlow—on Interstate 40 between Williams and Bellemont. The TowPlow is mounted on a trailer and pulled behind a conventional snowplow. It can swing sideways to clear the second lane.   

Engineer Bob Lannert says he invented the TowPlow in Missouri a decade ago, as a way to clear more lanes with the same number of operators. “The conventional plow will clear 10 to 11 feet wide, and with a wing on it, it might clear 15 feet wide,” he says. “I challenged myself to be able to plow two lanes wide.”

More than 25 states now make use of TowPlows. ADOT purchased its first for $170,000. Winter operations manager Mark Trennepohl says ADOT may add more to the fleet after this pilot run.

“We expect more severe and more frequency of storms as we go into the spring given our El Nino winter,” Trennepohl says. “We have no doubt that the Tow Plow will perform well. We didn’t get it here to prove that it works; that’s been well proven.”  

Trennepohl warns drivers not to pass the TowPlow while it’s operating, and to stay back at least 50 feet.

See a video of the TowPlow in action at ADOT’s website

Melissa joined KNAU's team in 2015 to report on science, health, and the environment. Her work has appeared nationally on NPR and been featured on Science Friday. She grew up in Tucson, Arizona, where she fell in love with the ecology and geology of the Sonoran desert.
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