Monday, December 22, 2008

A WSDOT snowfighting tool....teamwork

When the snow starts to fall steadily, our plow drivers switch into a mode we call gang plowing. A team of plows will each take a lane on a wide freeway like I-5 or I-405 or I-90 and stagger themselves. Each drives a little farther back than the driver in front and works one lane over. We posted pictures of gang plowing on our Flickr picture page as well as video on YouTube.

The idea is simple: the first plow pushes the snow to the next lane where it's picked up by the next plow and so on until it's pushed off the road. It's a very efficient way to clear the road. (It's like if you took all your brothers and sisters and lined them all up next to each other with snow shovels and moved forward... think how quickly you could shovel that driveway!)

Driving in tandem like this requires tremendous concentration. Our drivers tell us it makes them crazy when drivers either: drive too closely to the plow or try to split the plows to somehow get ahead of them.

Up on the Snoqualmie Pass, drivers up there tell us it's not uncommon to see someone split the plows and then get a windshield full of snow. This, of course, causes a driver to become disoriented and then, believe it or not, their first instinct is to drive into the snow plow! Talk about dangerous. Our plows are a lot bigger than your car or truck.

So, please, we are doing our best to keep the roads clear. The road behind our plow is so much nicer than the road ahead of it. Our plows will split up and let drivers get by after a mile or two. Give them the right of way. We're just trying to make your trip a little safer.


Anonymous said...

How many snow-plows are currently working on I-5? What are their schedules?

Michael said...

This is an impressive sight to see. They were gang plowing up the 512 (south hill) while I was going down the other side. I thought "those cars behind them were following a bit to closely". Thanks for keeping that hill safe for us!

Jamie Holter said...

At this very moment? That's hard to say. We really follow the weather. We have priority routes like I-5 because that's where most of the traffic is. We get to secondary routes as we can. We do have all of our trucks out and working.

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