JEFFERSON CITY - A Missouri-developed snowplow may soon be used for clearing roads across the country. The TowPLow was chosen to be a focus technology by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials' Technology Implementation Group. Missouri has been honored with the designation as a lead state in implementing the technology.
The TowPLow is a steerable plow that is pulled behind a snowplow truck and is able to swing out to one side, which doubles the plow width of a snowplow truck. It allows snow to be cleared from a roadway with fewer trucks and operators, saving on labor and equipment costs. The TowPLow was developed by Missouri Department of Transportation staff and first used in Kansas City in January 2005.
"This is a very exciting honor for MoDOT," said Tim Chojnacki, a maintenance liaison engineer for MoDOT. "It means that MoDOT is leading the way in technology development and is serving as an example to others about how to work efficiently and save time and resources."
AASHTO searches for outstanding advancements in transportation technology and invests time and money to accelerate their adoption by agencies nationwide. Each year, the organization selects a highly valuable procedure, process, software, device, or other innovation that has been adopted by at least one agency, is market ready and is available for use by other interested agencies.
Now that the TowPLow has been chosen for implementation, AASHTO is funding support for a lead state's team to promote expanded use of the technology. MoDOT will help serve on the team and guide the expanded use of the technology. The entire process can take a couple of years to complete. Several other states, including Maine, Utah, Ohio, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Iowa, have already copied Missouri's lead and are using TowPLows.
"Our primary role as a lead state will be to share our knowledge about the TowPLow to help other potential users understand how it can benefit them," Chojnacki said. "We'll also be able to reduce the learning period for agencies choosing to implement and adopt the technology."
With more than 65 TowPLows now in its fleet, MoDOT leads the nation in wide-plowing technology. During winter storms in Missouri, specially trained snowplow drivers do the work of two people with just one truck.
Snowplows are just one tool MoDOT uses to keep roads safe and passable during winter weather. If motorists are unsure about the condition of the roads, they can check the Traveler Information Map on MoDOT's website that now includes weather radar imagery. Viewers can see what is happening and what is coming their way. For information, visit http://www.modot.org/ or call 888-ASK MODOT. Recorded road-condition information is available at (800) 222-6400.
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