JEFFERSON CITY - Even though the first snowfall may be weeks away, the Missouri Department of Transportation starts preparing early to make sure it has the right number of people, in the right places, ready to plow and treat Missouri's 33,891 miles of state routes.
It's time to work on the winter battle plan that will help get travelers back on Missouri roadways as quickly as possible. In the coming weeks, crews will inspect equipment, make necessary repairs, review snowplow routes, and refresh their skills with training.
While the department's 2,400 maintenance employees will be ready to plow, if a big regional or statewide storm hits, MoDOT must rely on some extra help. Each year the department recruits emergency snowplow operators to fill the gaps and get the job done.
"Hiring emergency operators is one of the most cost-effective ways we can get extra help during winter storms," said MoDOT State Maintenance Engineer Beth Wright. "We staff our maintenance forces at a level that will allow us to maintain excellent service to Missourians, but if a winter storm hits and crews are working around the clock, we need to make sure we have enough people to operate safely."
MoDOT is now hiring emergency operators to work in all parts of the state, including both urban and rural areas. Since workers are needed on an "on-call" basis, working hours aren't guaranteed but qualified applicants receive extensive training and would perform routine, entry-level duties related to MoDOT's snow removal operations.
"Our ultimate goal is to return our most traveled state routes to near-normal conditions as fast as we can, said Wright. "Emergency operators are one way we can make sure that happens, no matter how big the storm."
MoDOT requires all applicants for the emergency operator positions to be at least 18 years old and possess a commercial driver's license, Class A or B, with no airbrake restrictions. Applicants must also successfully complete a criminal background check and drug screening. Those hired as emergency operators can earn $13.82 to $15.63 per hour, depending on their levels of experience.
The Missouri Department of Transportation annually spends about $42 million to keep roads clear in the winter and help ensure motorists get to their destinations safely and quickly. For more information about winter weather or to apply to work as an emergency operator, visit www.modot.org or call 888-ASK-MODOT (888-275-6636).