WASHINGTON – Ever since I saw my first big truck at the age of 4, I have had a deep-seated awe of such trucks and what they can do.
I was driving past the State Highway Administration maintenance facility in Frederick, Md. one afternoon when I saw it. It looked like a monster. At the time, I didn’t know what it was called, but it quickly got my attention. It looked huge and resembled one of the armored personnel carriers used by our troops overseas, except it had a V blade on the front for snow removal.
Months later, I had the opportunity to visit SHA’s maintenance facility for a story on another snow-moving vehicle and I got the chance to ask about the monster truck that caught my eye months before.
The truck has a name: Oshkosh. No, it’s not a nickname. It’s called that because it is manufactured in Oshkosh, Wisc. If you’ve ever been to Wisconsin in the winter, you know that they know all about snow and have lots of it. The Oshkosh is so heavy duty that it is used on only three highways in Maryland — 70 west, 270 and 340. Why is this? Because these highways always have the worst snow drifts.
Now, for the new weapon for snow plowing in SHA’s quiver.
It is a new dual-winged plow with a blade on the front and a blade on each side of the truck. Talk about moving the most snow at one time! It is the only one in Maryland or anywhere. The state has purchased just one to see how it will do, but everyone I’ve spoken with – drivers included – say this is going to be a home run.
You’re probably wondering why Frederick has the only duel-winged snow plow Simple. It was created by Frederick’s SHA’s shop chief Steve Henry. I guess they go by the rule that “if you make it, you get to use it first.”
So far we haven’t seen any significant snow, but when it does decide to show up you can rest assured that the dual-winged snow plow and the Oshkosh will handle it in stride.