ODOT’s Winter Maintenance Tools Will Help Improve Road Conditions

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New equipment will help the Oregon Department of Transportation keep highways clear of snow this winter. (Photo: ODOT)

Oregon travelers can expect to see changes in winter maintenance activities this year that
include the use of new tow plows and double-wing snow plows, plus rock salt on interstate
freeways and some secondary highways in Eastern Oregon.

Motorists are reminded to drive according to the conditions of the road and stay several car
lengths behind winter maintenance equipment. Remember that the road in front of the plow is going to be in worse condition, so stay back until operators pull over to let you pass. Because snow plows can have plow blades deployed on both right and left sides of the truck, pass with care and never pass a plow on the right.

The Oregon Department of Transportation also recommends washing vehicles after driving on wintry roadways to remove ice and possible deicer or salt residue.

Five new tow plows incorporate a special trailer that is pulled behind the plow truck to help
clear two full lanes of roadway at the same time. ODOT crews will run the new equipment on
about 200 miles of Interstate 84 between Boardman and the Idaho border, on Interstate 82
south of Umatilla and on some secondary highway sections. The tow plows consist of a special trailer with a 26-foot retractable plow blade and turning wheels that can swing the unit into the travel lane on the right side of the truck. Combined with the truck’s 12-foot-long front plow blade, a single tow plow unit can do the work of two regular plows, improving efficiencies and freeing equipment and operators to work on other highway sections during storm events. The tow plows also have hoppers that can disperse salt or sanding rock as needed.

“It’s great, it’s easy to operate and we can get a lot of work done,” said Meacham Coordinator Craig Romine. With standard single wing plows, it can take two passes of three trucks running in tandem to clear the two-lane freeway and shoulders. Romine said the Meacham crew achieved the same results with one pass of the tow plow followed by a regular plow truck to clear the shoulder.

“That will free up our rigs to assist others in Pendleton and La Grande, or to put more focus on old Highway 30 with the bus routes,” he said. “We can just go wherever we’re needed.”
Because the plows are built to service multi-lane routes they will primarily run on interstate
freeways.

The five recently configured dual-wing plows, along with an additional unit already in service,
will also be used primarily along Eastern Oregon multi-lane freeways. The retractable 10-foot
plow blades on both sides of the truck, combined with the truck’s front plow blade allows the
dual-wing plows to clear off two freeway lanes in one pass. This unit’s superpower is that it can move snow off to the left side of the roadway.

For additional resources on winter driving and preparedness, visit the ODOT website.

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