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CDOT plows roads despite driver shortage

Everyone is looking for drivers in a strong economy. So while RTD is talking about significant reductions to bus and train routes, how is CDOT managing?

DENVER — Even as government agencies struggle to find drivers in this economy, the Colorado Department of Transportation said it had its entire fleet of plows out to work on the roads during this week’s storms.

“We are short but we have our full complement of plows out there,” said Bob Wilson, statewide spokesman for the department.

In September, CDOT sent out a notice about looking for maintenance workers, who work as plow drivers during the winter months. Wilson said the agency had 111 openings for jobs.

Within a month, CDOT filled 65 of those positions.

“We’re still looking for about 46 folks,” Wilson said.

RELATED: RTD has a temporary plan to prevent temporary route cuts

RELATED: RTD eyeing possible service cuts

The shortage mirrors a problem within the Regional Transportation District (RTD). That agency is mandating its light rail operators and bus drivers to work six-day weeks. In recent months, RTD has had to cancel routes when drivers call in sick and the positions can’t be filled.

“One of the big reasons is the shortage of people who have commercial drivers licenses – which are required to drive our plows,” Wilson said. “There’s plenty of people who can use those commercial drivers licenses for other reasons or they’re doing something else that doesn’t even require a [commercial drivers license].”

In recent months, CDOT has increased pay. The agency is now offering temporary workers rates starting at $23 an hour.

“We’re also allowing retired CDOT maintenance workers to come back either at $25 an hour or they can come back if their rate was higher they can come back to work for us as well,” Wilson said.

And CDOT is offering other incentives to get maintenance workers, including housing stipends in expensive areas.

In the meantime, with the shortage, Wilson said plow crews are prioritizing roads with resources, hitting major arteries and interstates first.

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