CDOT Unveils New Snow Removal Equipment for a Portion of the I-76 Corridor

October 18, 2011 - MORGAN, WASHINGTON, YUMA COUNTIES — The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) recently unveiled its newest piece of snow removal equipment that will be used to help maintenance crews clear snow and ice from I-76 between Wiggins and Atwood.

The new tow plow is a trailer pulled by the plow truck that swings out to the side and can plow snow and apply de-icer (see video at

“We will be able to plow and/or de-ice 24 feet or two lanes of the Interstate with one snow plow truck and one employee with a second truck clearing the shoulders,” said CDOT Maintenance Supervisor Wes Templeton.  “With only two trucks working the Interstate rather than three, we will have an extra truck for other highways in the area, ultimately increasing our coverage and improving safety.”

When the tow plow is in use, both lanes of I-76 will be blocked and the snow plow will be traveling at 35 MPH. Both the snow plow and tow plow will be equipped with flashing lights and motorists should be prepared for slower travel speeds. Motorists should also stay far back from the plow as it is the safest spot with a clear roadway and increased traction.

This is the first tow plow to be used in the state by CDOT and there are hopes to expand its fleet of tow plows along I-76 if it performs well this winter. The optimal use for a tow plow is on a multi-lane divided highway where traffic is free-flowing.

In addition to the tow plow, CDOT has 41 pieces of snow removal equipment to combat snow and ice along 1,985 lane miles of highway in Morgan, Washington and Yuma counties.  Of the 41 pieces, 29 are snow plows used to apply solid and liquid de-icers.  There are also nine loaders and three motor graders for the removal of heavy or large amounts of snow.

“While the tow plow will help our crews immensely, we still need to use a variety of other equipment and products to clear the highways,” added Templeton.  “In addition, our crews will work 12-hour shifts day and night and on holidays and weekends until our highways are clear of snow and ice.”

CDOT always treats and plows primary roads first such as I-76 and US 34.  Secondary routes include State Highway (SH ) 52, SH 59, SH 61, SH 63, SH 71, SH 144 and US 385.  Highway segments with an annual average daily traffic (AADT) count less than 1,000 will experience limited snow removal operations. For the most part, CDOT crews will maintain these highway 14-hours a day, from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. (exceptions may be granted for school bus routes, highway segments with high accident rates or hospital/emergency routes).  To see a complete list of highways with limited plow coverage, visit

To help maintenance crews combat the snow and ice, CDOT will continue to use liquid de-icers, solid de-icers, and a sand/salt mixture. The two main types of liquid de-icers that will be used this winter are magnesium chloride and cold temperature magnesium chloride. Magnesium chloride* is effective at pavement temperatures above 16 degrees Fahrenheit while cold temperature modified magnesium chloride* is effective for pavement temperatures below 16 degrees Fahrenheit.  Trucks are equipped with infrared sensors to monitor ambient and pavement temperatures throughout a storm.

The two types of solid de-icers that will be used are Ice Slicer and North American Salt.  Both are granular salts mixed with magnesium chloride.  Ice Slicer is primarily used for pavement temperatures 20 degrees Fahrenheit and below and may be mixed with sand to provide more traction. North American Salt is primarily used for pavement temperatures above 10 degrees Fahrenheit.

While CDOT is prepared for the winter ahead, it is also important for motorists to be prepared. CDOT strongly encourages motorists to plan ahead by visiting or by calling 511 anywhere in Colorado. Current road and weather conditions are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week via the Web and phone.

You can also sign up for e-mail and text message alerts by visiting and clicking on the cell phone icon in the upper right corner under the search function.  You can then subscribe to any of the lists free of charge (standard text message rates do apply).

Here are a few winter driving tips to remember:

  • Be sure to carry plenty of windshield wiper fluid as liquid de-icers may stick to your windshield.
  • Let the snowplow drivers do their jobs by giving them extra room and don’t pass on the right.
  • Slow down! Even roads that have been treated with liquid de-icers may be slippery.
  • Be prepared. Have a scraper, snow brush, coat, hat, gloves, blanket, first aid kit, flashlight, tire chains, matches and nonperishable food in your car.
  • Make sure your tires have good tread.

**Snow Removal Products:

Magnesium Chloride in solutions up to 30% - Effective for use down to 16 degrees Fahrenheit pavement surface temperature.

Cold Temperature Modified Magnesium Chloride in solutions up to 27% magnesium chloride - Used when surface temperatures fall below approximately 15 degrees Fahrenheit. Products meeting this description have a corn byproduct additive that greatly lowers the freezing point of magnesium chloride.

Ice Slicer and North American Salt - A solid product that is mainly sodium chloride with small amounts of other materials that help this product to work at lower temperatures than pure sodium chloride. It is used to melt ice pack at curves and intersections and other spot locations that make it difficult to de-ice with liquids.