MDOT training crews on new plow

St. IGNACE – Some Michigan Department of Transportation workers in the Upper Peninsula began training Thursday to operate a new snow plow in Mackinac County that can do the work of two regular plows.

MDOT officials said the “tow plow” is a tandem-style machine that essentially is a plow towed by a standard plow truck. Workers from MDOT garages in St. Ignace, Engadine, Houghton and L’Anse began training on the equipment for use on I-75 and U.S. 2 in Mackinac County.

The workers will train others to use the new equipment, already being used in at least six other states and downstate Livingston County.

“We’re always interested in new ways to provide our services safely and efficiently, and we’re excited to see how the tow plow will perform here,” Randy Van Portfliet, MDOT Superior Region Engineer and Bureau of Field Services director, said in a news release. “The Upper Peninsula is the perfect place to put this new equipment through its paces.”

MDOT officials said the tow plow saves equipment, personnel and fuel costs because one plow operator can accomplish the work of two. By using this machine, crews can clear both the travel lane and shoulder in one pass, reducing time needed to clear the freeway during a winter storm.

The wheels on the tow plow turn, causing the plow to steer right of the plow truck. The plow works similar to a wing plow but with greater reach, according to MDOT. The tow plow also has a salt hopper, with room for a spreader to be mounted on the plow. The plow is controlled from within the cab of the truck.

For more information on the new plow, visit:,4616,7-151-9621_11008-291327-,00.html.

John Pepin can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206.