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Snow Plow Tracking Systems to Help PennDOT Analyze Winter Storm Response

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation will outfit over 700 trucks with GPS tracking devices so residents will know when to expect roads to be clear.

by Dan Sheehan, The Morning Call (Allentown, Pa.) / October 27, 2015

(TNS) -- This winter, hundreds of plows covering interstates and expressways will be equipped with new technology that will track their location and material use in a bid to make snow clearing more efficient.

The Automated Vehicle Location System will be installed on more than 700 trucks — including about half the fleet in PennDOT's District 5, which includes the Lehigh Valley — so the agency can better analyze how it responds to winter storms, officials said.

The system's real-time information will help PennDOT "better analyze how they do their jobs and get the best investment out of every dollar," Gov. Tom Wolf said during a news conference last week at PennDOT's District 8 headquarters in Harrisburg.

The pilot program "is a perfect example of maximizing efficiency and modernizing operations," he added.

PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards said the agency will be able to review truck movement and material usage after storms, but it will also help while storms are occurring.

"Interstates and expressways are our top priority during winter weather, and this system will help us identify and respond to real-time conditions even better than we do today," Richards said.

The information will not only be fed to PennDOT operation offices, but to the public through the agency's information website, www.511PA.com.

That will allow travelers to plan better routes during storms.

"You'll be able to see when the secondary roads are going to get done," said District 5 spokesman Sean Brown, adding that 100 of the district's 209 trucks will have the system installed.

The pilot is part of Wolf's GO-TIME initiative stressing inter-agency coordination and collaboration to maximize efficiency. It is expected to save $1.4 million over the next four to six years based on a combination of reduced salt usage and more targeted use of department equipment, Richards said.

In total, 516 PennDOT plow trucks and 212 contracted rental trucks servicing interstates and expressways will have AVL installed.

Statewide, PennDOT has 2,200 total department-force trucks and also rents approximately 270 trucks and their operators to maintain the more than 40,000 miles of roadway for which PennDOT is responsible.

©2015 The Morning Call (Allentown, Pa.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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