VTrans rolls out new plows - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

VTrans rolls out new plows

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It may be hard to believe, but winter doesn't officially start until Saturday. And to battle the slippery roads, VTrans rolled out its winter road policy Tuesday. VTrans says it does not have a bare roads policy, but a safe roads policy. And to get the roads in safe conditions, they have added to their fleet of plow trucks. And these plows hitting the roads this season may not look like anything you've seen before.

A beast of a truck is part of the plan VTrans has devised for fighting the winter roads this season.

"Vermont really is on the cutting edge of figuring out how we can have safe roads for travel, clearer storms-- at the same time we are using the most modern equipment that gets us there at least cost to taxpayers," said Gov. Peter Shumlin, D-Vermont.

This year, VTrans has two new pieces of technology called tow-plows. The add-ons attach to the back of the trucks and allow for one driver to plow from the front, side and now back of the truck.

"They look different than any other snowplow you have seen on the road," Shumlin said. "They basically are a double-plow-- one in front and one being towed. They also have a trailer on the back that can dispense sand and salt where necessary."

In action, these trucks will take up more than two lanes at once, so officials say they will be used during slow travel times. The state purchased the tow-plows over the last two years, but this will be the first year both plows will hit the roads.

"It will be able to, sitting over in the passing lane-- clean the passing lane, the driving lane and half of the breakdown lane. So, it's allowing that one truck and one unit to push snow all the way across and get it off the road," said David Blackmore of VTrans.

The add-ons cost anywhere from $70,000 to $100,000 each. But officials say buying a new plow truck can cost taxpayers up to $160,000. And despite what some taxpayers might think, officials say the state is dedicated to spending money on keeping the roads safe.

"We have never ever cut the maintenance budget. Whatever it takes to do the job for winter maintenance, we spend. So calls I get last winter, 'Well the first place you cut is maintenance budget'-- that has never ever happened," said Sen. Dick Mazza, D-Grand Isle County.

VTrans says the new tow-plows will mostly be used on Interstate 89 from Richmond to Randolph. Officials say another critical part of the winter road policy is for drivers to slow down during inclement weather.

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