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MoDOT is currently down about 1,000 snow plow operators statewide

MoDOT is currently down about 1,000 snow plow operators statewide

A Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) driver plows snow on Highway 50 in Jefferson City (file photo courtesy of MoDOT)

Columbia, Jefferson City and Boonville-area motorists are seeing dozens of yellow state Department of Transportation (MoDOT) snow plow vehicles on area interstates and highways this morning.

It’s part of a statewide winter weather drill to train snowplow operators on their designated routes, so they’re aware of everything. That includes knowing where curbs and raised islands are that could be hidden under snow and ice.

The drill will continue into the early afternoon, and you’ll see a number of them on I-70 and Highway 63 in the Columbia area.

MoDOT director Patrick McKenna says with high turnover rates and with many positions still open, driver training today is more critical than ever. MoDOT says there is a critical shortage of qualified snow plow operators across the state. MoDOT tells 939 the Eagle that they’re currently down 1,000 snow plow operators statewide. That’s about 30 percent below the staffing level they need to cover more than one shift in a statewide storm, according to director McKenna.

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MoDOT’s emergency communications systems is also being tested today, and every piece of equipment is being inspected and calibrated to operate efficiently and safety.  MoDOT spent about $53-million on winter operations statewide last year.

This past winter was brutal in mid-Missouri, especially in February. MoDOT plow crews drove more than two-million miles statewide that month. There were winter storms in three of the four weeks, and MoDOT’s emergency operations center was open for nine of February’s 28 days. Governor Mike Parson activated the Missouri National Guard for the first two-day storm that month, which dropped ten inches of snow in Columbia.