Cody - Wyoming’s Department of Transportation has a new weapon against snowstorms in Northwest Wyoming: a convertible double wide snow plow. The new system costs $400,000, but WYDOT managers say it saves money and time.
As the dark clouds threaten Northwest Wyoming with its first big snow of the season, a snow plow seems to spread it’s wing: a second plow that swings out from a trailer behind it. WYDOT spokesman Cody Beers said the truck and tow plow system will help clear area roads in half the time.
Beers explained, “We’ll be able to clear all the snow off the road in one pass, the shoulder and everything. Before it took us four trips: two each way. And now we can do it one pass in each direction.”
Beers said it normally takes five passes to clear snow from the five-lane road from Cody to Powell.
He explained, “The center turn lane, four driving lanes, two shoulders, in basically three passes.”
Plow driver Shaun Emmett said he’s talked to other plow drivers who have driven the rig. He said they like it.
Emmett said, “If we can clean more of the highway in less time, then it’s a benefit to everybody. It gets the road back to black and keeps the public safe that way. Less work for us and more safe for them.”
The view from the rig was enlightening. The plow driver has to maneuver a plow in front, a swing out trailer with a plow behind him, and impatient drivers.
Snow Plow Driver Joe Klein remarked, “It’s not the snow. It’s going to be all the vehicles. till they get used to us being out here with all of this.”
Klein said the extra blade adds more weight, so the new snowplows may be slower than the old ones. Drivers who come up behind them may be tempted to go around.
Beers was adamant, “We always tell people don’t pass the plow. Do not pass the plow.”
Beers said the plow will pull over for people to pass when it is safe. He said passing is dangerous to you and the plow driver.
“You’re going to have the hazard of trying to pass the plow. And two, you’re going to have the hazard of being in deep snow after you pass the plow. And you’re going to be driving too fast. You could lose control, and cause the plow to wreck into you.”
Truck and tow plow systems have been clearing snow in other parts of Wyoming for three years. Beers said those rigs have saved time for the plow drivers and money for the state.