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North Dakota DOT breaks out new snow plowing system: 'Tow-Plow'

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FARGO—North Dakota DOT plow drivers have a powerful tool this winter in the annual battle with storms.

In the past, plows could clear one lane and perhaps a shoulder during a trip down the interstate.

Then came the "Tow-Plow" and it's revolutionizing how quickly and efficiently our roads will be plowed.

Jon Skedsvold has plowed his share of snow-packed, drift covered highways.

Now he has a control board in front of him fit for the space age.

"Sensors so you can now track air temp, road temp, dew points," said Jon Skedsvold, DOT driver.

Jon will be one of 46 drivers in the Fargo District pulling one of a Tow plow.

Along with a traditional blade and plow, trucks will be pulling and deploying the latest storm fighting tool.

It clears nearly double the surface area.

"Back in the day, you had a front plow and you covered one lane, now we are covering the whole interstate and a shoulder," said Kent Leysring, North Dakota DOT.

It is all hydraulically controlled and drivers like Jon can move and adjust the two-plow to clear the shoulders or passing or driving lanes, which is a time saver.

"We can sweep the whole road off with half the trucks we used to use," said Leysring.

The tow-plows, four of them, will be used to clear the 1,800 miles of roads in the district after a storm.

"As we get the metro clean we can send other trucks out of town to hit other roads," said Leysring.

And since the "Tow-Plow" takes up so much space on the interstate, North Dakota Troopers are reminding motorists to slow down and make room for plow drivers.

The state patrol says it is another reminder for people to stop texting and stay focused on driving.

With plows driving slower speeds at times, traffic can come upon the plows quickly in bad weather.

"Depending on the day, these guys cannot see to the left and right. Just what is out in front of them, a lot of wind and fine snow and they cannot see what is around them, don't pass them unless there is plenty of space and plenty of visibility, stay behind the truck stay away from that zone where people cannot see you, to remain safe," said Captain Bryan Niewind, ND State Patrol.

There are 32 "Tow-Plows" in the state.

Each costs $140,000.

Kevin Wallevand

Kevin Wallevand has been a Reporter at WDAY-TV since 1983. He is a native of Vining, Minnesota in Otter Tail County. His series and documentary work have brought him to Africa, Vietnam, Haiti, Kosovo, South America, Mongolia and the Middle East. He is an Emmy and Edward R. Murrow award recipient.

(701) 241-5317
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