4 Tips on How to Plow Bridges Safely

For many reasons, plowing a bridge is not like plowing a road. To make sure you clear snow and ice from a bridge effectively and safely, we’ve compiled some tips below.

Plan Ahead

Inspect the bridge(s) before snowfall for potential hazards, and make a note of snow that will have to be removed from trapped areas. Although hauling is expensive, it may be necessary to prevent snow and ice melting materials from being pushed into waterways or onto motorists below. A recent crash in Canada shows the danger of leaving snow buildup on guard rails.

Plow with the storm

It’s important to keep snow under control. Wet snow weighs about 12 pounds per cubic foot, so as it piles up in front of your snowplow blade the weight can quickly increase to several tons. To make it easier to clear, start plowing when snow is 1 to 4 inches deep, depending on traffic or other limitations. Always plow in low gear and keep plowing. Plow high-priority areas (like bridges) first, especially where snow may compact and adhere to the road surface causing icy conditions.

Angle moldboard for optimum results

You will not be able to plow snow of any significant depth straight ahead for more than a short distance. Set the moldboard at the best angle for rolling snow sideways in the desired direction. The snowplow path, in the angled position, should exceed the tire track by at least six inches on either side. Be sure to have enough slack in the lift chain while plowing so the cutting edge of the moldboard can follow the ground contour. Use the adjustable runner shoes to set the bottom edge of the plow just above the ground for best operation. 

Go back for seconds

When slush begins to stiffen and refreeze, it will be necessary to plow again and reapply ice melting materials. Remember this can happen quickly on bridges as they ice before roads. 

With proper planning, monitoring of weather conditions, and maintaining high levels of caution you should be on your way to safely clearing bridges this season. 

What tips do you have for plowing bridges safely? Please share in the comments below.

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