Plowing through the most traveled routes in winter

KELOLAND.com Original

A KELOLAND file photo of a SDDOT snow plow truck.

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Snow plow operators that work for the state cover about 7,794 miles of roads, according to the South Dakota Department of Transportation.

The covered miles are less than 10% of all roads in the state but it’s the roads most used. The SDDOT said 68% of all vehicles travel on the roads covered by its snow plows.

The state has 82,501 miles of roads. The state divides the 7,794 roads it covers into four main regions.

The main regions of Rapid City, Pierre, Aberdeen and Mitchell are separated into sub regions to total 12 areas.

SDDOT’s four main regions and the areas within the regions. SDDOT map.

The state has 385 full-time snowplows spread out across the state. The state has other equipment in its winter lineup.

Equipment list

  • 385 full-time snowplows
  • 22 road graders with V plows
  • 76 snow blowers
  • 23 tow plows
  • 42 spare snow plows

The state’s transportation committee approved the winter maintenance plan earlier this month.

Snow plows work from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. during a storm and when conditions allow, according to the SDDOT winter maintenance plan. Extended hours are also added for highly traveled routes in the Sioux Falls and Rapid City areas.

The maintenance plan also breaks down how various routes are covered in a snow event.

The fiscal year 2022 budget has $19.6 million for winter plowing. The $19.6 million is $19.5 million for snow and ice control and $39,000 is for contracted snow removal. Last winter the department budgeted $22.5 million for winter maintenance and spent some $17.6 million. This winter the budget is targeted at $19.6 million.

What is the equipment like?

A snow plow weighs about 58,000 pounds. A tow plow truck weighs about 88,000 when it’s fully loaded.

A tow plow truck is a truck with a 36-foot trailer equipped with a 250-gallon liquid deicer and eight cubic yard hopper sander or two 1,000-gallon liquid deicer tanks.

A typical snow plow averages 3.4 to 4 mpg on a blend of low sulfur diesel and biodiesel.

SD DOT snow plows don’t get very old. The average lifespan of a plow truck is 15 years old.

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