"Do not crowd the plow."
That's the message the Michigan Department of Transportation is trying to get out ahead of inclement weather this winter. The agency is rolling out a new piece of equipment for metro Detroit, a tow plow, which will take up a wider stretch of roadway when it's in use than a plow truck by itself.
The tow plow, which will be attached to the rear of a traditional winter maintenance truck, will be in use during times of low traffic volume on select portions of major roads, including I-375, I-75, Gratiot and Woodward avenues and Fort Street, according to Charles Mackey, transportation maintenance supervisor at MDOT's Detroit Maintenance Garage.
The tow plow and the truck hauling it will each be able to carry 10 tons of road salt. The combo, which MDOT parked on Belle Isle for a media showing today, will stretch 29 feet in width when the tow plow blade is out and the truck has its wing blade extended, effectively like having two plow trucks operating.
Tow plows are in use in other parts of Michigan, such as the Upper Peninsula, but this will be the first one in metro Detroit. The new truck costs about $200,000 and the new plow, about $100,000, Mackey said. The combination will bring the number of trucks in MDOT's fleet at its garage on East Ferry Street to 14.