Crews testing eastern plains technology for more efficient snow removal in mountains

March 10, 2014 - Statewide Transportation Plan - STATEWIDE — Tomorrow, Tuesday, March 11, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) will be using cutting-edge technology from its Eastern Plains region on the I-70 corridor in Eagle and potentially Summit counties. CDOT crews from Logan County have loaned the mountain corridor a relatively new piece of snow removal equipment called a tow plow to help maintenance crews clear snow and ice from the interstate.

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

“Our tow plows are 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 Superintendent Tim Miles. “By using fewer trucks to plow the same amount of space, we are hoping to use the extra truck for other highways in the area, ultimately increasing our coverage and improving safety during this testing period.”

When the tow plow is in use, both lanes of I-70 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.

“Since this will be the first time I-70 drivers will see this type of equipment, we want to remind them to give the plow extra room to work since it is roughly twice the size of a normal plow,” Miles added.

The first tow plows used in the state by CDOT were on the Eastern Plains beginning in the late fall of 2011. After years of increased efficiency and success, CDOT is now exploring options to use the plows in other areas of the state. The optimal use for a tow plow is on a multi-lane divided highway where traffic is free-flowing. Altogether, CDOT has four tow plows based out of Boulder, Morgan, Washington, Weld, and Yuma counties.

CDOT reminds motorists to be prepared for winter weather when driving in the mountains by visiting or by calling 511 anywhere in Colorado before heading out. Current road and weather conditions are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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.