Kentucky transportation agency using new ‘tow plows’ to keep roads clear of snow, ice

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KYTC Tow Plow
The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet’s snow-fighting fleet is adding tow plows that can clear two lanes of snow or ice at once. (Courtesy: Kentucky Transportation Cabinet)

PADUCAH, Ky. — In recent weeks, motorists traveling Interstate 24 and Interstate 69 in Western Kentucky may have seen a couple of pieces of unusual snow-fighting equipment. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) has been testing two new “tow plow” trucks assigned to District 1 at Paducah that have the capability to clear snow from two lanes at once.

“One truck and one driver can salt and plow an area that would normally take two or three trucks,” said Kyle Poat, chief engineer for KYTC District 1. “It improves our snow-clearing efficiency on interstates and parkways while freeing up other trucks to run the two-lane routes.”

District 1 has two of the specially equipped trucks, based in Marshall and Graves counties. A third tow plow has arrived for use in Lyon County, where it is being outfitted to cover an additional section of I-24.

Equipment Operator Jimmy Treas will be aboard the tow plow assigned to run I-24 between Calvert City and the Ohio River. Justin Schwinn, a member of the Graves County highway maintenance crew, will cover I-69 and the Purchase Parkway between Mayfield and Fulton.

“It’s an interesting piece of equipment,” Schwinn said. “The tow plow adds another dimension to what we do.”

When using a tow plow, the vehicle is driven in the passing lane with a traditional front-mounted plow. When the driver activates a hydraulic system, tires on the trailer move shift the tow plow equipment to the driving lane and deploy a plow that clears the driving lane. The plow mounted on the tow plow portion of the trailer is much larger than a traditional truck-mounted snow plow.

KYTC asks travelers to be patient as plow operators clear roads because vehicles will not be able to pass the tow plows when they’re in operation. Drivers may spot an escort vehicle following the tow plows during the first few snow and ice events the tow plows are deployed.

KYTC District 1 will have 3 of the 5 tow plows that are now part of Kentucky’s 1,000 truck snow-fighting fleet.

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