Kansas roads could take longer to clear this winter

Capitol Bureau

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Staffing shortages could affect how roads are cleared during bad weather this winter.

“KDOT is facing significant staffing shortages in some areas and will work proactively to clear Kansas highways by shifting crews to affected areas and pretreating highways and bridges whenever possible,” said Secretary Julie Lorenz. “Our snowplow operators work 12-hour shifts and do their best to keep the roads open and the public moving.”

In a statement Tuesday, the Kansas Department of Transportation said they did not have enough equipment operators, particularly snowplow operators. According to KDOT, they are 30% short of snowplow operators needed to be fully staffed.

“We want motorists to understand why it could take longer this season to clear highways during storms,” said Secretary Lorenz. “Knowing this allows motorists to plan ahead, alter or even delay travel plans, which in turn helps them stay safe.”

To help address the shortage, the agency will deploy all employees who have a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) to plow snow and hire seasonal employees.

Earlier this year, some areas in Northeast Kansas were seeing significant shortages in staffing for maintenance crews as well.

In August, northeast Kansas highway engineer Leroy Koehn told Kansas Capitol Bureau that he’s seen maintenance crews with more than 50% vacancy. He said they’re in desperate need of equipment operators.

“Those are the people that do all the maintenance function on our highway system, the signs, the mowing, taking care of our potholes,” Koehn said. “A crew that would normally have 10 operators or so, we have one or two that I could think of, where we’re down to five or fewer.”

If you are interested in working at KDOT, go to the state’s employment website. KDOT will assist selected applicants in obtaining a CDL upon hiring, including paying for training.

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