Meadville Tribune

Local News

November 22, 2013

PennDOT calls in 'Plowzilla' to take on Ol' Man Winter

Huge new tow plow to be used for clearing snow and ice off Interstate 79 and portions of Route 6/322 in Crawford County.

VERNON TOWNSHIP — Drivers need to be aware of and avoid getting too close to a huge new tool used for clearing snow and ice off Interstate 79 and portions of Route 6/322 in Crawford County.

A 30-foot tow plow has been delivered to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s Crawford County Maintenance Office in Vernon Township for use on the interstate between Meadville and Edinboro and Route 6/322 between Meadville and Conneaut Lake.

The over-sized plow may be deployed as soon as Saturday if winter storm predictions come true, according to Jim Hepler, PennDOT’s maintenance manager for Crawford County.

A tow plow is a snowplow pulled behind a PennDOT truck that’s equipped with a front-mounted snow plow. When activated, the tow plow “steers” out and angles into the right lane to allow one truck to clear two 12-foot traffic lanes with one pass.

Its wide size makes it ideal for clearing snow from an interstate or similar multiple-lane highway like Route 6/322 between Meadville and Conneaut Lake.

“Being able to clean two lanes at once should reduce our fuel costs and give us better efficiency,” Hepler said.

But the plow’s sheer size means motorists need to use extreme caution, Hepler said.

“It’s a safety issue for us as well as for other drivers because they’re not going to be able to pass it because it is so wide,” Hepler said. “Drivers will need to slow down.”

When it deploys at an angle behind the truck, the 30-foot long tow plow gives a typical plow truck a 24-foot plowing width, enough to clear two 12-foot traffic lanes at once, Hepler said. It also is equipped with two 1,000-gallon tanks for spreading brine to melt snow and ice.

There are safety lights on the back of the tow plow as well as a blinking beacon light on it to warn approaching motorists, Hepler said.

Two PennDOT workers assigned to drive the tow plow — Richard Baker and Rusty Custard — are excited to put it to use, but they will be cautious as well.

“It’s big — people just need to give us enough room and not pass,” said Baker, a 14-year veteran plow driver.

“I drove with it up to Edinboro, but the real test will be in the snow,” said Custard, who has driven for PennDOT for more than 24 years. “I worry about who may come up behind us.”

William Petit, head of PennDOT’s District 1, which includes Crawford County, is urging motorists to give all snow plows room to operate and never try to pass a plow truck or group of plow trucks.

“Plow drivers have an enormous responsibility,” Petit said. “They have a difficult job and often work in conditions with limited, sometimes near-zero visibility.”

Text Only
Local News
Business Marquee
AP Video
Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Raw: Faithful Celebrate Good Friday Worldwide Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest Police Arrest Suspect in Highway Shootings Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home Calif. Investigators Re-construct Fatal Bus Cras Mayor Rob Ford Launches Re-election Campaign Appellate Court Hears Okla. Gay Marriage Case
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide