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WYDOT struggling to fill all of its snow plowing crews

A snow plow made its way down a county road in Waupun, Wis., earlier today.
Jeffrey Phelps
A snow plow made its way down a county road in Waupun, Wis., earlier today.

As winter approaches, the Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) is struggling to fill all of its snow plowing crews. Seven areas in the state have over 50 percent crew vacancy, and the Northwest region is the only area fully staffed.

Snow plow crew vacancies as of Nov. 1, 2022
Wyoming Department of Transportation

WYDOT Director Luke Reiner said they are concerned about the southwestern part of the state, especially between Rock Springs and Patrick Draw on I-80. Reiner said the modern meteorological systems give them an advantage as they are able to pretty accurately predict a storm’s path, intensity and snowfall.

“[We] move snow plow drivers to the area where they're needed, if they aren't needed, where they currently are,” said Reiner. “So that you can surge to the storm. And if the storm is not statewide, that works really well.”

Yet, Tom Dehoff, WYDOT assistant chief engineer of operations, said they do ask alot of their team members.

“We'll move people to the location where the storm is. So, we're putting our team members up in hotel rooms for two or three days during the storm. So they're leaving their families back at home,” said Dehoff.

In addition to going where the storm is, Reiner said they also have volunteers who are able to help if there is an intense storm in a certain area. Those volunteers are old snow plow drivers who may have gotten a different job or gone into a different area of WYDOT, but they still retain their snow plow skills. Reiner said they make sure those volunteers are current on equipment and appropriately trained. They are not on normal rotation but get called if there is a big storm.

The agency is actively working on recruiting and retention through higher pay. WYDOT is asking drivers to stay at least four car lengths behind snow plows and avoid trying to pass them.

Kamila has worked for public radio stations in California, New York, France and Poland. Originally from New York City, she loves exploring new places. Kamila received her master in journalism from Columbia University. She has won a regional Murrow award for her reporting on mental health and firearm owners. During her time leading the Wyoming Public Media newsroom, reporters have won multiple PMJA, Murrow and Top of the Rockies Excellence in Journalism Awards. In her spare time, she enjoys exploring the surrounding areas with her two pups and husband.

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