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ODOT struggling to hire seasonal plow drivers

Published: Oct. 14, 2021 at 6:12 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - We have had an extraordinary stretch of fall weather but in the end, we all know the winds of Lake Erie will soon be whipping up the dreaded lake effect snow and playing havoc with our travel plans around northeast Ohio.

The Ohio Department of Transportation works long hours coordinating and executing their snow removal plan but as it stands now they have a looming problem in that they have been unable to hire anywhere near the number of seasonal plow drivers they need.

Statewide, ODOT hires 550 drivers for the winter all of whom are guaranteed 40 hours and week and in most cases work overtime hours just about every week.

They are critical workers to the job ODOT needs to accomplish and at this point, ODOT has managed to hire only about half the drivers they need statewide and that number holds in northeast Ohio.

“It doesn’t mean we’re not going to be out there if we don’t meet our seasonal hiring, it just means it’s going to take us a lot longer to accomplish our goal,” said Amanda McFarland, an ODOT spokesperson.

ODOT’s stated goal is to have roads clear 2 hours after a snow event and that is a difficult job to accomplish even when at full staff, let alone when dealing with staffing concerns.

ODOT has raised pay 3 percent for seasonal workers to $18.59 an hour and McFarland said there are often opportunities for seasonal employees to be hired full time at the end of the winter season.

Matt Simon is the ODOT Medina County Manager, and he said hiring in the county at this point is only at just above 50 percent of the drivers he will need.

“We want to make sure every route is covered and if we have less drivers that means fewer routes that will be covered, and they’re longer so we really want to shorten those routes the best we can,” he said.

At this point, ODOT will consider using engineers and other ODOT employees who have commercial drivers licenses as plow drivers so they do not burn out the drivers on staff.

ODOT has posted a recruitment video on the TikTok media platform to try and find plow drivers.

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