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Maine Turnpike Authority announces changes to highway maintenance vehicles

Maine Turnpike: Thinking Ahead FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 19, 2019
Erin Courtney
CONTACT: Dan Morin (MTA)

Maine Turnpike Authority announces changes to highway maintenance vehicles

Flashing green lights will be added to 17 new snowplows on turnpike this winter

PORTLAND, Maine – Starting this storm season, some snowplows driven by Maine Turnpike Authority and MaineDOT will have a new feature: flashing green lights.  These changes are a result of a bill passed during the First Regular Session of the 129th Legislature (LD 1555).  This bill amended the section in Maine law pertaining to emergency and auxiliary lights to allow the use of white and green lights, in addition to amber lights already permitted under Maine law.  These green lights are now permitted on MTA, MaineDOT, and municipal vehicles, including snowplows.  

When poor visibility makes driving more hazardous, flashing or oscillating green lights will alert motorists to drive with caution when approaching snowplows.  Green is more visible to the eye so it stands out better during both snowstorms and bright sunlight.  This means that drivers will be able to see snowplows from farther away, especially during heavy snowstorms.  

"Our goal with using green lights is to help drivers see and notice the maintenance vehicles, even during whiteout or low visibility conditions," said Erin Courtney, Maine Turnpike Authority public outreach manager.  "Better visibility means safer roads for both snowplow operators and motorists," said Courtney.

17 of MTA's 77 trucks on the road this winter will be equipped with the green lights.  These are new trucks that are replacing trucks that average 15 years of service with thousands of miles of winter plowing.  In addition to the green lights, these new trucks will be green with yellow plows rather than orange and will have larger arrow boards on the back.  Some of the lights on the back of the truck are also equipped with a defroster to help keep them clear of clinging snow and ice.  In the future, the MTA plans to retrofit some of the existing fleet with the new lighting package. 

The MaineDOT will be adding green lights to their plows on I-295, as well. 

In addition to the truck changes, a different method will be used for plowing in narrow construction zones, primarily through the Portland area (from Mile 44 through the work zone at Warren Avenue bridge) and at the York toll plaza project. Through these areas, echelon plowing will occur.  Unlike most of the Turnpike where snowplows can spread out to let others move by, they will be plowing side by side through the work zones and motorists will not be able to pass the plows. 

“This is a break from our typical practice, but with so many construction zones so narrowly spaced, this will improve safety for both our plow drivers and the traveling public,” said Courtney, “Please do not try to pass a plow when traveling through the Portland area.”

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