TOPEKA, Kan. — The Kansas Department of Transportation issues a new warning as winter creeps a little closer.

KDOT announced staffing shortages continue to impact the department. Right now, KDOT says it doesn’t have enough snowplow drivers to staff snow removal in many areas this winter.

“We want motorists to know ahead of time – it’s not a matter of if the highways will be cleared this winter, but when,” Transportation Secretary Julie Lorenz said.

“KDOT crews will be proactive by shifting crews and pretreating surfaces whenever possible but having fewer employees could cause delays in removing snow and ice from all the affected roadways.”

The department said it has about 25% fewer plow drivers than in previous years.

To ease the issue as much as possible, KDOT trained all employees with a CDL on snowplows earlier this year. All of those employees will be deployed to clear highways when needed this winter.

KDOT said it will assist selected applicants in obtaining a CDL upon hiring, which includes providing training. For people interested in working at KDOT, go to the state’s employment website at jobs.ks.gov.

The Missouri Department of Transportation is warning drivers about the same issue this winter, and local cities are experiencing similar issues.

The city of Overland Park is recruiting for about 20 open positions on their snow team, which means it’s about 10% short. 

In Kansas City, Kansas, they also need 20 team members for winter weather operations. A spokesperson told FOX4 the public works manager met with departments Wednesday to see if drivers can be pulled from other areas to assist this season to prevent slowing down. 

Cody Kennedy with the city of Olathe said it’s important that cities are fully staffed because their drivers make sure commuters can go the short distance to work and school.

“Whether it’s your cul-de-sac, your neighborhoods, whether it’s a main road, we’re the ones that take care of that,” Kennedy said. 

Kennedy said they’re sitting pretty with snowplow drivers — fully staffed. Kennedy said they have a lot of new drivers, but all receive the proper training.

This year, they’re offering a bonus to plow drivers — $100-$150 per storm. Overland Park is offering a similar incentive. 

“To remain competitive while recruiting, we have increased maintenance worker pay up to $21.56 per hour,” Overland Park spokesperson Meg Ralph said.

“This position is also eligible for our new snow incentive program, which pays plow drivers $150 per snow storm with a $1,500 per snow season minimum. This is on top of hourly pay and overtime. We have also modified minimum requirements for these positions and now accept applicants without a high school diploma.”

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