The Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) says although it still has plenty of snow salt, it is 401 employees short of fully staffing its available plows. The department recently tried to hire 500 drivers, but because the job pays just over $15 an hour, it was only able to hire 150—and some are leaving.
According to the article, because of budget cuts MoDOT lost over 2,500 employees in the last four years. It takes several seasons for a new employee to get up to speed on driving or repairing a plow. The number of plows is also an issue, with 1,550 trucks available, which is less than half as many as Illinois. Because of the personnel shortage, one or two are sitting idle at each yard. Usually, 7 to 10 percent of the trucks are down for maintenance.
“Especially in the St. Louis area, anybody that has a CDL is very, very marketable right now,” says Chief Safety and Operations Officer Becky Allermoth. “They can even work for a city or county plowing streets and make a little more money or even work for Amazon.”
Allermoth says if taxpayers want to see more plows more often, “that’s one of the decisions you have to make whenever you’re looking to see if you want to vote for a fuel tax increase.”
Dangerous road conditions have also made operating the plows more difficult. On Monday morning, Jasper County Emergency Communications were alerted to a slide off of large truck. The driver was operating a MoDOT snow plow and was not injured. Missouri State Highway Patrol says snow plows are considered cautionary vehicles and people are asked to give them room to traverse the roadway.
Representatives of Jefferson City Public Works and MoDOT said Wednesday they are looking forward to the warmer temperatures coming toward the end of the week. Forecasts call for the area to climb above freezing Saturday.
Source: KMOX, KSN, KMIZ Fox