The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities recently named “Darth Blader” as the winner of its 2023-2024 “Name a Snowplow” Contest.
[Above photo by the Alaska DOT&PF]
“Darth Blader” – selected from over 900 entries – will operate on the Glenn Highway from Muldoon to Hiland Road and the Seward Highway from 5th Ave to Potter’s Marsh.
The agency added that its “Name a Snowplow” is contest is a “fun and lighthearted way” for state residents to engage with its highway crews, while also recognizing the critical role snowplow operators play in keeping the state open and safe for everyone.
“Alaska’s winters require resilient efforts to keep our roads clear, and our maintenance and operations crews work tirelessly to ensure this,” noted Kirk Warren, Alaska DOT&PF’s central region maintenance & operations chief, in a statement.
State departments of transportation across the country use similar contests to raise the profile of its snowplow crews and highlight the importance of winter operations to the motoring public.
More than a few – such as the South Carolina Department of Transportation – are also now using snowplow simulators to better prepare their crews for winter operation scenarios.
Meanwhile, several states are now setting aside a day to specifically honor the work done by the snowplow crews servicing their roads.
For example, Governor Tony Evers (D) recently proclaimed November 27 as “Snowplow Driver Appreciation Day” in Wisconsin to remind motorists to give snowplow drivers plenty of space to complete their jobs safely.
The Wisconsin County Highway Association and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation helped support that one-day event, which also served as an outreach event to remind motorists to slow down and be alert during winter weather.
“Wisconsin’s snowplow drivers work long hours in tough conditions to keep roads clear and safe every winter season,” said Craig Thompson, Wisconsin DOT secretary and newly-elected president of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, in a statement.
“We applaud them for their dedication to safety and service, and also ask that drivers do their part to keep our roadways safe,” he added. “Eliminate distractions when driving, always give snowplows room to work and, when possible, avoid travel during major storms.”
For more than 100 years, the Wisconsin DOT said it has maintained a “unique partnership” with the state’s 72 county highway departments. During the winter, county highway workers help provide snow plowing, salting, and liquid brine applications on interstates and state highways.
The agency added that it works with Wisconsin counties year-round to establish best practices and test new tools for safety and efficiency.
“Wisconsin winter weather can wreak havoc on travel plans,” explained WCHA Executive Director Patrick Vander Sanden.
“Snowplow drivers take their work very seriously including overnight, weekends and holidays so that we can all continue to get to work, school and all the places we need to be,” he said. “Please be attentive and patient whenever driving in the winter and give plows room to work – it’s the best way to say thank you.”