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ODOT Urges Patience Amid Plow Truck Driver Shortage

Lane Avenue Bridge Covered In Snow
WOSU File Photo
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WOSU

As Central Ohio braces for the first measurable snowfall of the season, the Ohio Department of Transportation is urging people to be patient because of a plow truck driver shortage.

Forecasts call for snow to start Thursday afternoon, with up to an inch possible in Columbus and more falling in areas southeast of the metro area. ODOT crews spent Wednesday brining roads with a mixture of ice and water.

ODOT spokeswoman Brooke Ebersole said when it comes to scraping snows off of roads, it will take longer than usual.

“So, when we're up to full staff on those seasonal plow drivers...one driver has one route. Remember that a plow route can take anywhere from 90 to 120 minutes for one route, but because we're seeing this 50% shortage, these drivers are now doubling and sometimes even tripling up on routes," Ebersole said.

The plow truck driver shortage is a phenomenon seen in nearly all sectors of commercial drivers, as companies and agencies struggle to find qualified drivers.

Last winter, ODOT spent $23 million on snow and ice operations in Central Ohio. That included the department spreading around 141,000 tons of salt. Speaking to WOSU in October, Ebersole said it's hard to estimate how much this winter will cost ODOT since it depends on how much ice and snow the region gets.

Steve Brown grew up in nearby Richwood, Ohio and now lives there with his wife and sons. He started his journalism career as a weekend board operator at WOSU while majoring in journalism at Ohio State, where he also wrote for the student newspaper The Lantern and co-founded the organization Students for Public Broadcasting.