DOT’s pre-storm preps include readying tow-plows

Local News

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Workers with the South Dakota Department of Transportation have been gearing up for the winter storm long before the snow starts flying. They’re making sure all their equipment is ready to go for a prolonged plowing operation that will likely last through the weekend, and beyond.

Like a car lot customer shopping for a new vehicle, Curt Theisen is kicking tires as part of a thorough equipment check by the South Dakota DOT.

“We’re checking our lights over, we’re greasing the trucks, we’re cleaning the cabs, we’re making sure all the windows are clear and everything’s adjusted on them to make sure our blades are good, tire pressure’s up, so when we come in at four o’clock in the morning, you just have to hop in your truck and go,” DOT lead highway maintenance worker Curt Theisen said.

Theisen operates one of the Sioux Falls shops three tow plows, that can clear snow on two lanes of an interstate at one time.

“In the cab, you just flip a lever and it moves the cylinder one way or the other and it turns the tires underneath that trailer, and that’s what kicks it either to the right or left, and then the blade will drop and you can clear another lane with it,” Theisen said.

The tow plow is one of 41 pieces of equipment the DOT can deploy when the storm hits in the Sioux Falls area.

“Everybody comes in and it’s like alright guys, let’s go do it and everybody hops in their truck and the doors open up and a way they go,” Theisen said.

But plows aren’t all that will be hitting the roads once the snow arrives. These two bins contain 10-thousand tons of salt at-the-ready.

“Our office here makes our own salt brine so we’ve had the luxury of not having to respond to winter weather over the holiday so we’re caught up on that brine production and we deliver that to the outlying shops so they’re all stocked up for this upcoming storm,” DOT Region Engineer Travis Dressen said.

But rain is expected to arrive ahead of the snow, so crews will have to wait to apply the salt, otherwise it gets washed off the roads. Just one of the many adjustment crews make each time it snows in South Dakota.

“Every storm’s a little bit different, we just need to make the best decisions we can based on what conditions we have,” Dressen said.

The familiar warning of “Don’t Crowd the Plow” is all the more relevant for this storm since it will be hitting at a peak holiday travel time.

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