The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) has developed a simple way to make its snow plows more visible to motorists and more efficient as snow-removal tools during the snowy winter months.
Plow fleets from the Marquette County Road Commission and MDOT now use wing plows fitted with MDOT's Superior Stick innovation. These plows clear snow from active traffic lanes and the shoulders of lanes. Regular plow blades are 9 or 10 feet wide, but with Superior Stick wings attached, the plow width becomes 14 feet wide.
When the wings are in use, drivers will see additional flashing lights above the wing plow. This will improve the safety for both regular traffic and snow-plow drivers as they travel on the roads. The new equipment also will make the snow plows more efficient, cutting back on costs for labor, equipment and fuel, MDOT said.
These benefits are expected to make the plow wing more popular among snow-plow drivers throughout the U.S. as well.
"When the results and feedback are in from more extended use in the (Lake) Superior Region, then I anticipate greater use," Mark Geib, MDOT's engineer of operations field services, said.
MDOT said its L’anse Garage staff built the first Superior Sticks.
"We have this innovative wing plow but, where we needed it, we had a lot of intersections, passing relief lanes and business entrances where we couldn't use it," John Dault, the Supervisor from L’Anse Maintenance, said. "This light makes the wing plow acceptable. We've innovated a feature that really works."