Here’s where you might notice less snow plow drivers on your streets

I-Team

CLEVELAND (WJW) – The incoming snow this weekend led the FOX 8 I-Team to investigate where in Northeast Ohio you might notice a shortage of plow drivers on your streets and highways.

We first exposed a shortage of plow drivers back in September, so we took a new look at how many trucks won’t be on the road.

This week, we saw the city of Cleveland still posting job openings for plow drivers to work the streets and clear runways at the airport.

City hall tells us it has hired 125 plow drivers (full-time workers and others hired just for the season).

However, 54 will just start their jobs on Monday and 20 will just begin training on Monday

We’ve shown you before how the Ohio Department of Transportation has been struggling to find enough drivers to clear the snow this season.

So, we went back to ODOT.

“This year has been a very different animal for us,” spokesperson Amanda McFarland said.

She said ODOT has never been so far behind in hiring plow crews at the start of the snow season.

ODOT has filled only about half of the jobs for drivers, covering Cuyahoga, Lake and Geauga counties and about half for plow crews covering the Akron, Canton and Ashtabula areas.

Most jobs have been filled to cover areas including Medina, Wayne and Lorain counties.

ODOT has full staffing in Trumbull and Mahoning counties.

Still, we wondered, what if the plow driver shortage goes on all winter? It appears to be part of a nationwide shortage of all kinds of workers.

“I think what people can expect if we don’t hit those marks is that we’re just not gonna be able to clear the roads as fast as we normally do,” McFarland said.

She added that ODOT will still have crews out around the clock, but just not as many.

The I-Team has also shown you lots of Cleveland plow trucks out of service for repair. Some are even out of service at the start of the season.

So, we went to a maintenance shop. We found a bunch of different kinds of heavy duty trucks lined up outside, and we looked inside the garage.

Inside, we saw only one truck already with a plow on it.

At another garage, we saw plow trucks with their hoods up, so we asked about that.

“They’re all in service,” a manager there said. “They’re in service. Snow ready.”

ODOT says it is still processing applications and filling open positions.

Meanwhile, ODOT expects drivers already on-staff to be able to handle the first snow of the season.

The plow drivers and equipment now have to be ready whether there’s short-staffing or not.

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