MICHIGAN (WILX)- They won't be using it anytime soon but M-DOT unveiled a new vehicle that will make a huge difference on snow-covered roads.
It's called the Tow-Plow, a massive snow plow that can cover two lanes of road at once. When it deploys look out, you don't want to be caught on the wrong side of this machine.
"When it deploys it looks like a truck jackknifing because it's going to swing out to the side," explained M-DOT Region Maintenance Manager Will Thompson.
When the Tow-Plow deoploys it sticks out a 30 degree angle with no extra warning other than the regular flashing lights on the plow, so drivers keep your distance.
"We definitally want people to be prepared when this thing swings out. Stay back and be careful it's fine," said Thompson.
Driver Gary Shultagis says if you are going to pass it, only pass on the left, never on the side where the plow is.
"Stay back and give us room. With using it on a three lane road you will be able to pass on the left because it only deploys on the right," explained Shultagis.
The tow plow can cover widths up to 25 feet. That means clearing 2 lanes at once saving money and personell.
"It's special in the way we have never been able to plow two lanes with one driver before. Recently we had a 15% cut in employees. The number is down a bit and we need to use tools to make up for it," said Thompson.
This one is the only one for the state of Michigan currently. This winter the Tow-Plow will be used in Livingston county on I-96 and UW-23, but may eventually be used on two lane roads.
"If there is too much snow and we use it on a two lane people will feel better behind it than trying to get around," said Shultagis.
It cost M-DOT $93,000, money managers say that is well spent.
"We predict 30-40 percent savings and a 5 year payback. So we should have it paid off in 5 years."
13 other states are also using Tow-Plows. M-dot says the vehicle is perfectly safe and won't swerve even if it runs over something. That's because of the design, the wheels under it keep it locked in place.
M-DOT has trained four employees to drive the Tow-Plow. Now they're just waiting for the next snowfall to get a chance to use it.
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