New plows aim to clear turnpikes faster during winter weather

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Story by: Janai Norman
Updated: 12/04/2013 12:25 pm Published: 12/04/2013 12:16 pm

The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority has new tow plows they say are faster more efficient for clearing snow.


Regular plows can cover 11.5 feet, but the new truck has two plows and can cover 26 feet—enough to clear both lanes on a road with just one sweep.


“It cuts down on fatalities for us, and it clears the roadway,” Oklahoma Highway Patrol Lieutenant Brian Orr told FOX23.


He was on site checking out the new tow plow for himself that he says has advantages for troopers and drivers alike.

“We’ll have troopers behind it to escort as its doing the roadway, but this thing moves so quickly, in the long run it benefits us by keeping the roadway clear.”


FOX23 is discovering one tow plow can clear both lanes of the road in a single pass, a job that used to take three trucks and more time.


“We moved about 25-30 miles per hour [with the old trucks],” Maintenance Superintendent Steve Allen said. “With the new tow plow we can run about 45-50 miles per house and clean the road with less amount of equipment.”


It’s that efficiency Allen says is necessary on the turnpikes that are highly traveled at high speeds.


“We want to make it as safe as possible,” he said. “If it snows enough that we can’t see the white lines or yellow line on the pavement, we drop the plows and begin to plow the snow off.”


FOX23 discovered as many as 30,000 cars pass through the Turner Turnpike in a single day. Those cars used to be able to drive around plows, but no longer can when the double plows are down.


“There’s no place for traffic to go around us, so they’ll be stuck behind us,” Allen explained. “They’ll be slowed down a little bit when we use the big plow.”


They’ll have to wait for snow to fall before they can plow it, but crews are getting a head start. We’re learning they pre-treated bridges and overpassed Tuesday night to help prevent freezing.


OTA says there will be nine trucks on the roads with crews doing 12 hour shifts until the roads are cleared.

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