SAN LUIS VALLEY— The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) will introduce new pieces of equipment to its southwest and south-central arsenal this snow season. Two “tow plows” will be used on US Highways (US) 160, 550, 285 and 50, near Durango, Monte Vista, Alamosa, Blanca, Fort Garland, La Veta Pass, Poncha Springs and Salida during winter months.
“We will be able to do more with less,” said Ronnie Medina, CDOT Alamosa maintenance supervisor. “It will be a great advantage to clear more miles in less time.”
The new tow plow is a trailer equipped with a plow blade, which will be pulled by a snowplow truck. The driver has the ability to swing the tow plow out to the right of the road, in order to cover more area of the road surface. The tow plow is also equipped with a tank which carries and distributes sand or liquid de-icer that will be used as needed.
The blade of a regular snowplow is 10 feet long and can clear that area of snow across the road surface 10 feet. The new tow plows can clear 12 feet more. With the extra 26 foot blades extended at an angle, the tow plows will clear 22 feet of snow across the road surface. The overall length of truck and tow plow together moving straightforward down the road is 70 feet long.
Tow plows will typically be followed by an additional snowplow and a CDOT supervisor’s vehicle.
However, if a motorist happens to follow directly behind a new tow plow, CDOT warns the public not to be surprised if and when the trailer deploys to the right.
“It may look like the snowplow is jackknifing,” added Medina. “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.
Like normal snowplows, the new tow plows will be equipped with flashing warning lights and will travels at speeds approximately 30-35 mph. Motorists are not ever to pass a tow plow and should allow plenty of room for the plows to maneuver.South-Central Colorado tow plow zones
Monte Vista — US 285 MP 51 to 53, north for approximately two miles starting at the intersection of US 285 and US 160 to the Rio Grande bridge.
Alamosa— East, west and south of Alamosa, US 160, MP 225 to 227, east between Three Mile Road and the intersection of US 160 and CO 104, US 160, MP 235 to 259, west from Alamosa to Fort Garland, US 285, MP 0 to 30, south from the intersection of US 285 and County Road 15 to the NM state line.
Ft. Garland— US 160, MP 265 to 279, west of Ft. Garland to La Veta Pass.
Poncha Springs & Salida— East, west and south of the towns, US 50, MP 217 to 222, seven miles west of Poncha Springs to the intersection of CO 291 and US 50 at Salida, US 285, MP 119 to 126, south from Poncha Springs to Poncha Pass.
CDOT Maintenance Section 7 in south-central Colorado is headquartered in Alamosa, covering eight counties: Alamosa, Archuleta, Chaffee, Conejos, Costilla, Mineral, Rio Grande and Saguache. There are 18 patrols with 99 maintenance workers and 117 pieces of snow removal and avalanche control equipment, including 64 snowplows. Products used include Sand/salt, liquid de-icer and ice slicer for the 1,530 lane-miles (combined lengths of each lane on every highway in Sec. 7). There are eight mountain passes in the area: US 160 Wolf Creek, US 160 La Veta, US 50 Monarch, US 285 Poncha, US 285 Trout Creek, CO 17 Cumbres/La Manga, and CO 114 Cochetope. The area’s winter budget is estimated at $4,376,400 (2017-18).
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