PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Winter weather is back in KELOLAND and more than 400 available South Dakota Department of Transportation snowplow trucks and tow plows could be called into action.

Those available snowplow trucks are more than big trucks with snow blades.

“Our plow trucks are in essence a rolling computer, with highly technical salt and chemical rate application systems, currently 120 units have an onboard data collector called an MDC (mobile data collector) this gives the operator the ability to relay real time road conditions to our web based system and get salt and chemical rate suggestions back almost immediately, keeping us productive, efficient and fiscally responsible,” said Tyler Green, a SDDOT equipment manager in the division of operations support.

The SDDOT four regions. SDDOT map.

The SDDOT wants the public to choose a name for one snowplow each in the 12 SDDOT areas across the state. The contest ends Jan. 31.

So what will the public be naming?

In addition to having high-tech gear, the snowplows are large moving pieces of equipment rolling down highways and interstates.

The average snowplow weighs around 58,000 lbs and is 11’6” tall. The average tow plow/ truck unit weighs around 88,000 lbs. fully loaded, Green said.

It takes a lot of power to keep those snow units on the road.

“Our plows run a 450 hp Detroit engine, tow plows run a 505 hp Detroit engine,” Green said. “The plows average about 3.5 to 4 mpg and run on low sulfur diesel/biodiesel blend.”

Trucks typically last about 15 years, Green said.

The SDDOT buys the plow truck chassis through a bid process. The SDDOT chooses the lowest responsible bid that meets specifications, Green said.

The chassis need the parts that make them a snowplow unit.

Green said the plows, wings and bodies are bought through the National Association of State Procurement Office (NASPO) or Sourcewell, a public agency that offers competitively solicited purchasing contract.

“The bare trucks are sent to the vendor on contract, they install everything needed for snow fighting, then ship them to the SDDOT and we place them in service,” Green said.

The SDDOT recently launched its 511 app and website tool to inform the public about road conditions and related topics.

Snowplow operators and highway maintenance supervisors are responsible for keeping the 511 app updated, Green said.

KELOLAND file photo of a SDDOT snow plow truck.

The public is taking interest in naming state snowplows, said Julie Stevenson, the strategic communications director for SDDOT.

“We announced our snowplow contest at 8:30 on Tuesday (Jan. 12) and we’ve already had over 350 name plow submissions in this first 36 hours,” Stevenson said on Wednesday, Jan. 13.

“South Dakotans are very creative; we’ve seen some really unique names coming through. It’s fun for us to see families, companies, schools, assisted living facilities – all getting involved,” Stevenson said.

Here’s a file video of a SDDOT snowplow truck at work.

Entries can be submitted on the SDDOT website at https://dot.sd.gov/contest.

There are four SDDOT regions: Aberdeen, Mitchell, Pierre, and Rapid City. Those regions are split into 12 areas of Aberdeen, Watertown, and Huron, Mitchell, Sioux Falls and, Yankton, Pierre, Mobridge, and Winner, Rapid City, Belle Fourche and Custer.

There are about 107 plows per region. There are a total of 428 trucks and 23 tow plows spread across the state, Stevenson said.