ST. LOUIS – Winter is just around the corner. But with potential snowfall not too far away, it’s time for road crews to start their preparations. The Missouri Department of Transportation’s Winter Operations Snow Drill is even more important this year.
Employees have been out training, going through equipment, making sure everything is in working order, so they can get used to driving with snow plows during winter.
MoDOT has about 100 new maintenance employees across the state, which makes the drill this year that much more important.
“About 27% of our winter snow fighters have less than three years’ experience. So, this drill is so, so important. Safety is a cornerstone for MoDOT, and these folks need this training,” Michelle Forneris, MoDOT assistant district engineer, said.
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Despite their efforts to hire more staff, MoDOT is still several hundred employees short of what it takes to plow 12-hour shifts, 24 hours a day. But they can move resources around based on the forecast.
“When we go into winter weather it is a statewide effort to battle winter weather storms. So we will move resources across the state to where those storms are and supplement our teams where the need is,” Forneris said.
On the other side of the river, IDOT has been preparing as well.
“You’ll see us training. We don’t do a single day. We try to take advantage of days like this to do some pothole patching. But the folks that aren’t needed for those essential jobs, we rotate them out to get them familiar with the changes, whether we improved an intersection or if we had to switch route assignments. We do that incrementally throughout the fall,” Joseph Monroe, operations engineer for IDOT District 8, said.
IDOT is also feeling impacts from staffing issues made more complex due to new federal training requirements. They say there is some concern there, but they have a plan and will not pull resources from high priority routes.
“Yes, it’s very frustrating for us to be year over year, trying to catch up,” Monroe said. “We realize the economic engines of downtown St. Louis and the surrounding areas, so people need to get into downtown. We’re not going to pull someone from 55/70/64 or 255 to get into the core.”
As always, the Missouri State Highway Patrol asks that you pay attention when storms are coming and listen to the warnings about limiting your travel during hazardous conditions. That gives MoDOT and IDOT space to get roads cleared and then everyone can get to where they need to be safer.