I-Team: See how workers at home help highway plow crews

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(WJW) — The FOX 8 I-Team has found state road crews going remote to help clear your highways.

We’ve uncovered a hi-tech hook-up for local plow crews with the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT).

Video from ODOT shows how a worker sitting at home in southern Ohio can play a role in getting your highways plowed in Northeast Ohio.

And, those same people working at home are sending messages to drivers like you on local highways.

The I-Team found a network of people working remotely for ODOT — doing critical jobs when snowstorms leave the roads a dangerous mess.

ODOT spokesman Matt Bruning  held up a portable radio and  told us, “I’m an hour south of Columbus, and I could talk to a plow truck driver on I-90 in Lake County.”

Bruning says the home connections to plow drivers came after the COVID-19 outbreak. The state could not keep people working close together in an ODOT central operations center in Columbus.

ODOT crews working remotely

So, now, they work remotely.

Local managers monitor road conditions, and they can see what plow drivers see, but the statewide traffic managers might get involved after a big accident or when police call ODOT about a trouble spot in a storm.

Bruning added, “It would ring right at their desk at their house. They’re able to dispatch a crew out. They’re able to do all that at home.”

ODOT keeps 800 cameras watching highways statewide. The people working from home can see any of those cameras at any time. And, they can type in a message to one of those electronic message boards. Those boards that you now seem to see while driving everywhere.”

Bruning said “They’re kind of the overall managers watching the entire state.”

No question, when bad weather hits, your world is what’s in front of you right then. Drivers we met were surprised to hear plow trucks might be getting some orders from hours away.

One man in Cleveland said, “As long as they can do it with technology. They seem to be doing a pretty good job.”

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