WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — In the almost four decades Ted Coleman has worked for the Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT), he says he’s never seen staffing shortages this severe.
“KDOT has treated me good — it’s, it’s boggling,” Coleman said.
Coleman, a public service administrator with KDOT, says he’d ideally like to have at least 14 staff members on his team. At the moment, he only has six.
“Some of our engineers, our technicians come in and drive for us,” Coleman said.
KDOT Public Affairs Manager Tom Hein says most counties are 10-20% understaffed.
“It’s a constant battle for us. We’ll interview someone who seems perfect for the job, and other people find that out, too. Sometimes we lose people because we couldn’t hire them fast enough,” Hein said.
Coleman says the stiff competition has played a huge role in shortages throughout Wichita.
“The aircraft industries, you got a lot of manufacturing here in Wichita, so everybody’s going for top dollar,” Coleman said.
Despite shortages, KDOT says it’s prepared for the upcoming winter storm, but warns delays are likely — especially in Western Kansas where the shortages are arguably most severe.
“During the previous storm, we did a pretty good job of keeping the snow plows filled. This next storm looks to be pretty widespread, so we may not have that availability in all places, but we will do our best. We will clear the roads — it may just take a little bit longer than usual,” Heim said.
“We’ll be out there to combat the elements, and we want to make sure Wichita and the traveling public — that they know everything is going to be OK,” Coleman said.