Barbara Barte Osborn Bee correspondent Caltrans' new "tow-plow," which can remove snow from two lanes at once, will debut today on I-80 from Kingvale to Truckee. Snowfall of 3 to 7 inches is predicted.

New 'tow-plow' expected to speed snow removal over Donner Summit

Published: Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 2B
Last Modified: Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013 - 7:50 am

A new snowplow that can remove snow from two lanes at once should speed up the clearing of Interstate 80 over Donner Summit for skiers and other travelers.

Caltrans will begin using the new plow today on I-80 from Kingvale to Truckee, said Rochelle Jenkins, Caltrans District 3's public information officer, in a news release.

According the National Weather Service, snow is expected today in the Sierra, with 3 to 7 inches predicted.

State Department of Transportation snow-removal employees demonstrated the new $80,000 "tow-plow" Wednesday at Caltrans' Kingvale Maintenance Station near the summit.

"The tow-plow is snow removal equipment never seen in California," Jenkins said in the release.

The new equipment will plow 28 feet of roadway at a time, whereas regular plows have a removal width of 10 feet to 12 feet, according to the release. Pulled by a vehicle designed for the purpose, the tow-plow can be activated to maneuver to the right of the vehicle, allowing for two lanes to be plowed at once.

Today's forecasted storm is expected to break a dry spell in Sacramento, where rain is predicted.

Sacramento's last significant rainfall occurred Jan. 23-25, a mini-weather event in which a total of 0.23 inches fell. The weather service is forecasting another small storm today as a low-pressure system influences Northern California's weather.

The weather is forecast to be colder, too, with daytime highs in the mid-50s today in Sacramento, instead of the 60s.

Rainfall in the Valley is expected to amount to about a quarter of an inch.

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