The plows are on and ready to roll at the Ohio Department of Transportation facility in Canfield. Joining the fleet this year is the new Tow Plow, a vehicle and trailer capable of plowing 22 feet of roadway with one pass.
"The Tow Plow will come out for two or more inches of snow," said District 4 information officer Justin Chesnic,
He said the new Tow Plow is a full-size, dump-plow truck that pulls a trailer equipped with a plow and salt bin. Through the use of hydraulics, the trailer will swing into a second lane allowing the driver to plow two lanes at once.
Photo by J.T. Whitehouse, Town Crier
Larry Poage of Beloit, is pictured next to the new Tow Plow that is ready to go the first time the area hits two or more inches of snow. He is one of six drivers trained to operate the new equipment that can plow 22 feet of roadway with one pass.
"This is the second Tow Plow in Ohio," Chesnic said. "With it, we will be working with neighboring counties when it comes to plowing."
He said Mahoning County's ODOT facility will team with Columbiana County when it comes to plowing Ohio 11. Instead of turning around at the county line, the new Tow Plow will continue all the way to East Liverpool.
Motorists will now have to adjust to passing the plow truck. Chesnic said the plows travel between 40 to 50 miles per hour. Often motorists would pass the old plow trucks, but with the Tow Plow, they will have to stay behind it and travel at the speed it is going.
To be prepared for the new equipment, six drivers from the Canfield ODOT facility got behind the wheel back in July to a practice run. A section of U.S. 62 was closed and the drivers practiced swinging the plow trailer into the second lane of travel.
"The claim was that we could swing it (the plow trailer) out at 40 miles per hour," said driver Larry Poage. "We treid it and found that it does cause the truck to swerve a little. We may have to slow to around 30, swing it out, then pick up speed."
Chesnic said the new Tow Plow will likely be used on I-680 as well, but mostly over night when traffic is minimal.
Equipment like the new Tow Plow helped ODOT get national recognition for snow and ice removal. This past spring, ODOT received the American Public Works Association's Excellence in Snow and Ice Removal award. ODOT was the only state road department in the United States to earn this award.
"Our people do great thing every day and it's nice to be recognized for the superior level of service we are providing our customers - the motoring public," said ODOT Director Jerry Wray.
The Canfield facility also brought home another award with a winning plow. Each year, ODOT District 4 holds a plow rodeo in the fall. One event in the rodeo is the Paint-a-Plow contest where local schools can paint a snow theme on the plow. This year, only South Range High School entered and painted a plow for Mahoning County. It was one of four District 4 entries.
"The plow drivers at the rodeo vote for the best painting and this year, the South Range plow won," Chesnic said.
He said the plow will be seen on Mahoning County state routes this winter. At the end of winter, it will be removed and the plow will again be ready for a new artistic endeavor. Chesnic said the Canfield ODOT facility has 12 plows and he would love to see other schools get involved for the 2014 rodeo. Interested schools can contact the ODOT facility in Canfield for an application.