MITCHELL, S.D. — South Dakota is expanding its fleet of snow-removal tow plows to manage winter weather conditions.

The state Transportation Department bought three tow plows before the start of this winter, and officials are planning to buy three more before next winter.

The anticipated purchases would be used in Sioux Falls, Rapid City and Chamberlain, the Daily Republic reported . Each tow plow costs about $140,000.

“These tow-plows help us do our jobs more efficiently and get the roads cleared sooner,” said Jason Humphrey, a Transportation Department engineer.

Humphrey said tow plows save money. A traditional snow plow truck costs $3 per mile to operate. A tow plow costs about $1.37 per mile and uses fewer operators.

Tow plows are pulled behind a typical snow plow truck like a trailer. They function on the back of a snow plow at the same time as the truck’s front plow. Tow plows allow operators to remove snow from one lane and the shoulder in one pass.

Some tow plows are equipped to treat roads with a liquid salt mixture.

“As far as the efficiency, I’m doing the job of two guys out there,” said Curt Theisen, the department’s lead highway maintenance worker. “Instead of having two trucks clearing the interstate, you have one truck and the tow-plow doing the same job.”

Humphrey said South Dakota took direction from nearby states like Iowa, Minnesota and North Dakota, where tow plows have been used for between six and eight years.

Information from: The Daily Republic,

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