Dec. 5 2018 12:00 AM

As an early winter blankets the region, the state’s Department of Transportation faces a worker shortage.

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Just as an onslaught of heavy snow and ice has hit Colorado, there is a critical shortage of people to clear the state’s roads of it. According to a story by Matt Kroschel posted on the CBS 4 Denver website, the Colorado Department of Transportation is trying to handle this daunting task with fewer employees. It’s even put up large signs along Interstate 70 saying “CDOT is Hiring.”

“We’ve seen a lower number of applicants applying to work at CDOT as maintenance employees and plow drivers,” CDOT’s mountain corridor manager Patrick Chavez told Kroschel.

The agency is down about 100 snow plow drivers. With the early winter hitting the high country hard, it’s been a scramble to keep up.

“This impacts us because we can’t maximize the number of plows that are out there,” says Chavez, according to the story. “So it limits our ability to get the roads adequately plowed and back to good condition as quickly as possible.”

The I-70 corridor has been hit the hardest by the worker shortage. “In a lot of cases we are getting plow drivers coming from other sections of other regions to come out and help us out up on the corridor,” Chavez is reported as saying.

This might present an opportunity for Colorado landscape companies that also do snow work, if they’re not already swamped with work clearing snow for their existing clients. CDOT has increased its pay rate from $19 an hour to $22 an hour. Retired snow plow drivers can come back and earn $25 an hour, or the rate they were paid when they retired if that was higher.

“Nationwide, there’s a shortage of drivers that have a commercial driver’s license, and that’s impacting how many people we have out maintaining our roadways,” says CDOT Human Resources Director Susan Rafferty in the story.

The agency is also offering a housing stipend for some locations. In addition, employees may be hired from out-of-state thanks to a six-month residency waiver.