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Wyoming once again has a shortage in snow plow drivers going into winter

A yellow snow plow moves snow along a stretch of roadway.

Wyoming had its first big snow storm of the season over Thanksgiving, but cleaning up the roads will be hard again this season as there’s a shortage of snowplow drivers.

Huge snow storms can mean closed roads – something Wyomingites are familiar with. Opening them back up takes a lot of work from snow plow drivers.

“We have some roads that are plowed 24 hours a day during a storm event,” said Jordan Young, deputy public affairs officer with the Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT).

Young said it gets complicated when there’s a shortage in drivers. Like last year, there were 80 vacancies.

“We had crews from the northeastern part of the state that weren't really seeing the same levels of snow, and they traveled down to help the folks on I-80 get that back open,” she said.

They even called on other WYDOT employees with the special licenses needed to help out.

This year, there’s only about 40 vacancies. Young said that’s still going to be a challenge, albeit slightly less than last year.

She said that since some positions have been filled there will be new employees on the road this winter, adding that people should slow down and be patient if they’re driving near a snow plow.

“One great way to keep power drivers feeling safe, and feeling happy at work is to not hit them,” Young said. “We've already seen three strikes in less than a week.”

Luckily the drivers are ok. But Young said sometimes that’s not always the case.

WYDOT is still looking to fill those 40 extra plow driving positions – starting pay is at $20.66 per hour.

Caitlin Tan is the Energy and Natural Resources reporter based in Sublette County, Wyoming. Since graduating from the University of Wyoming in 2017, she’s reported on salmon in Alaska, folkways in Appalachia and helped produce 'All Things Considered' in Washington D.C. She formerly co-hosted the podcast ‘Inside Appalachia.' You can typically find her outside in the mountains with her two dogs.

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