Keep on truckin’

PennDOT’s new plow truck safer, more efficient on snowy roads

Times Observer photo by Stacey Gross The new truck has an injector bed that doesn’t need to raise.

PennDOT has a new tool at its disposal.

This week, employees of the state’s Department of Transportation have been trained to operate a new plow truck that uses an injector bed rather than a bed that rises to deposit material on snowy roads.

The injector bed plow, said Assistant County Maintenance Manager Blaine Shick, “is made for interstates, places like Route 6 with overpasses.”

The truck’s bed has an “injector,” a hydraulic slide similar to a garbage truck’s compactor, that pushes material from the front of the bed to the back, making it safer on places where unseen overhead hazards may be common. Even the lights on the front of the plow trucks, said Shick, are expensive, so any opportunity to avoid hitting something with a raised plow truck bed is a plus.

Shick said PennDOT plans to use the new truck on places like the Main Avenue overpass in Pleasant Township, the Route 3022 Irvine Bridge, and on Route 62.

Aside from the alternative method of forcing material to the back of the bed, most of the other components of the plow truck are the same, said Shick. The spreader, plow, and wings are all similar to those on traditional plow trucks. There is a seat sensor that tells the truck to turn off the hydraulics that run the injector and spreader, to prevent injuries. According to Schick, there are a lot of instances when operators trying to clear debris from components like spreaders have been injured. There’s also a sensor on the front and back of the bed to indicate the position of the injector. If an operator were to fill the bed of the truck, said Schick, when the injector was at the back of the bed, “the only way to get it out is by shoveling.” The bed of the floor, Shick said, is also thicker.

The new truck was ready for operation starting Tuesday afternoon.