MoDOT facing critical shortage of snow plow operators

Even without snow on the ground, drivers for the Missouri Department of Transportation will be hitching plows onto trucks tomorrow
Published: Oct. 19, 2022 at 6:40 PM CDT
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CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (KFVS) - The snow is not here yet, but the Missouri Department of Transportation will have its plows out in force Thursday for a statewide winter weather drill. But, they’re concerned a critical shortage of snow plow operators may have consequences in the coming months.

”We have to make sure our equipment’s ready,” MoDOT’s District Engineer Mark Croarkin said.

Even with dry roads Thursday, the department will have snow plows hitched to trucks and on the roads.

Croarkin said they’re preparing for a heavy winter.

“We’ll have a handful of new drivers in the area that are gonna get out and see what it’s like to have a plow on the road,” he said

However, even though they’re doing drills to get new drivers behind the wheel, they still have an issue.

“This year we’re actually down about a thousand drivers statewide,” Croarkin said. “It’s just challenging to find CDL (Commercial Driver’s License) drivers who want to plow snow.”

Joe Rose is a Street Maintenance Supervisor for the City of Cape. He’s not a stranger to operating a snow plow. He said he doesn’t really have any complaints about plowing.

“The biggest stress is other vehicles,” Rose said.

He said The City of Cape is covered because they have help from Alliance, but being short drivers affects plow operators.

“Run one crew instead of two, or be stretched thin for how many hours we can run basically,” he said.

Croarkin said in the event of a statewide snowstorm, it will affect communities.

“When you say 30% down, if we had a truck that was driving thirty miles last year, they’re gonna have to drive forty miles this year in order to cover everything, so it just takes longer,” Croarkin said.

Whether it’s Thursday’s drill or a snowstorm, patience is key for drivers when there are plows on the roads.

“If you see a plow on the road, please keep your distance, stay back, and give them plenty of room,” Croarkin said. “They’re big trucks, it’s hard to see around them, you can see better than they can.”

Both MoDOT and the City of Cape are always looking for people with Commercial Drivers Licenses to help out.