DOT snowplows in central Iowa to get makeover

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 8/11/2015

Snowplows that work to clear major roadways in central Iowa will get a makeover in time for winter.

Gov. Terry Branstad signed into law a bill to permit Iowa Department of Transportation snowplows in the Des Moines area to be outfitted with flashing blue and white lights.

Iowa DOT snowplows now are permitted to use only flashing amber lights. In addition to amber lights, neighboring Minnesota trucks use blue lights while Nebraska uses blue and white lights on their snowplows. Missouri and South Dakota plows have amber and white lights.

Rep. Dave Maxwell, R-Poweshiek, said the three-year program is intended to help make state DOT snowplows more visible while out on the road.

Maxwell told lawmakers during House floor discussion that during the past winter there were 39 crashes in Iowa resulting in $770,700 worth of damage to motorists and state property. In addition, there were seven injuries reported.

Iowa transportation officials say the lighting change could help address the more than 200 wrecks involving snowplows during the past five years.

The agency will report to lawmakers on the effectiveness of the program in the summer of 2019.

“If it’s effective, it will probably be asked to be reinstituted. If it’s not effective, it would die at that point,” Maxwell said.

Blue and white lights are set to be mounted on 175 snowplows at a cost of $600 per truck.

Federal research funds are expected to cover 80 percent of the costs involved.

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