HAGERSTOWN — The Maryland State Highway Administration put its new TowPLow on display at its Hagerstown office Wednesday morning.
“I think this will be very effective in Maryland,” SHA District Engineer Tony Crawford said. “We are always looking for new ways to improve our winter operations.”
The TowPLow, unveiled at the SHA District 6 office in LaVale, Md., on Monday, is a device that is attached to a regular plow truck to increase efficiency in snow plowing, particularly on interstate highways, Crawford said.
“What you would typically require two to three trucks to perform, a TowPLow equipped with one truck can do the same service,” he said. “Our trucks typically plow about 8 feet, but with the TowPLow, we can plow up to about 20 feet.”
The truck carrying the TowPLow is expected to plow about 10 feet of snow across the roadway, and the TowPLow behind it would veer to the right and cover another 10 to 15 feet. Crawford said he was not concerned about the possibility of holding up traffic.
“Our typical plow trucks block traffic anyway,” he said. “Drivers have got to realize that what’s in front of the plow is worse than what’s behind the plow.”
The TowPLow will first be put to use on Interstate-68 in Garrett County to test its efficiency this winter, Crawford said.
The engineless equipment frees the maintenance truck it replaces to cover other areas, and reduces fuel costs and emissions. The TowPLow also can apply salt or salt brine to the road, the SHA said.
The SHA has trained workers to drive the trucks carrying the TowPLows, Crawford said.
“This is the first (plow truck) we’ve ever had of this caliber here, so I’m pretty excited about it,” said Dave Nichols, a facility maintenance technician who will drive the equipment this winter. “It’ll cut down on the time we need to clear an interstate or a secondary road.”
Nichols said that learning to drive it was challenging.
“You have a lot more responsibility, and you really have to pay attention with these,” he said. “It’s not like you can just put your (snow plow) down and go.”
There are only two TowPLows in the state. The TowPLow displayed Wednesday is for District 6 of the SHA, which includes Washington, Allegany, and Garrett counties. The other TowPLow is in District 7, which includes Frederick, Carroll, and Howard Counties.
Crawford said if the TowPLows are effective this winter, the SHA will probably look at expanding their use in the future.
“We are going to test it in Garrett County first because Garrett County historically gets 140 inches of snow” in the winter, he said. “In 2010 it had 262 inches of snow.”