MnDOT testing out new technology for snow plow operators

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With winter weather upon us, the Minnesota Department of Transportation is trying out new technology for their snow plows.

It’s part of an ongoing research project.

"Without those guys out there fighting the snow, we’d be pretty much stuck at home," said Tony Bowe, MnDOT Fleet Manager for District Two in Northwest Minnesota.

Bowe says a lot of his operators are already using a good amount of the new equipment.

"If it proves itself here, it’s got a lot of value," Bowe said.

This research project involves five new or upgraded pieces of equipment, including two slurry spreaders. The slurry spreaders help spread salt more evenly and effectively.

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"We don’t want to do the old-time thing of dumping, lifting up a dump truck and dumping it out on its own. we want to distribute it," said Tom Peters, who is a MnDOT research engineer.

Peters is heavily involved in this project. He says they’re also testing out a version of the underbody scraper to clear compacted snow and ice. Plus the two-way reversible plow and true float wing, which will help with plow mobility.

"We may have some district personnel say this is great and other ones say no we’ll just continue to use what we have right now," Peters said.

The goal of this research is to combine cost, impact on the environment, effectiveness and safety on the roads.

"I think you always have to have an open mind and always be looking for something new," Bowe said.

As unpredictable as Minnesota winters are, one thing is for sure.

"We’re going to have a winter, you have to know how to deal with it," Peters said. "Our public expects to deal with it."

Plow drivers will test this equipment over three winter seasons. Based on the results of the research, MnDOT says we could see a lot of this equipment put to use on both rural and urban roads across the state.