Ask Joe: Why was a row of snow plows allowed to block traffic?

From the Ask Joe file, we are addressing a question about snow plows and whether they are allowed to block traffic in some cases.

Our viewer Rich wrote in after getting stuck behind a row of snow plows last week on I-580. He wants to know why the plows were allowed to block traffic and slow down a lot of peoples' commute that day.

Here's what I found out:

Rich was driving southbound through Washoe Valley, and there was a line of four snow plows going 20-30 mph, slowing everybody down. There did not appear to be much snow on the road that day.

So what's going on here? I checked with Meg Ragonese at NDOT about this.

She said usually their plows operate in one or two lanes so they don't disrupt traffic too much. In this case, Ragonese said there was a berm of snow on the left side of the highway, so the left hand plow was pushing the snow to the right to the next plow, which was pushing the snow further right to the next plow and so on to get the snow off the highway.

So it was teamwork in action among the snow plow drivers.

Usually NDOT tries to do this type of work during non-commute hours, but that's not always possible because of the weather conditions, which, we all know, can change in a hurry.

In general NDOT says snow plows do have to operate at slower speeds when removing snow, so try to keep that in mind when you do see them on the road.

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