Snow plow driver shortage to create headaches in Oregon, other Western states

This decline in workers is leading to a decline in snow-removal services that would normally be provided to quickly clear roadways.

Oregon and other states out West are seeing a shortage of workers who can operate snow plows, deicers, salt trucks and sanding trucks.

This decline in workers is leading to a decline in services that would normally be provided to quickly clear roadways.

"People are going to notice the difference when we get hit by a big storm," said Don Hamilton, public information officer for the Oregon Department of Transportation. "This may be a problem as we move into the winter."

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He noted that the areas that will be most affected are mountain passes.

Because roads will take a longer time to be cleared, Hamilton recommends that holiday travelers allow longer times to arrive at their destinations. 

ODOT will work to clear the major roads, and then will clear the minor roads as they can, he said. However, they are going to do it with the resources they have.

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"The most important resource are the crews that we've got out there," Hamilton said. "We've got the deicer, we've got the salt, we've got the sand, we've got the plows all ready to go. We've got to make sure we get the crews rested and ready to go out there, too."

This shortage of manpower is leading to ODOT shifting crews and resources around the state to fill in any gaps. They are also in contact with other states, such as Washington, California and Nevada, for additional help.

Hamilton stressed the importance of having local crews available.

"We're hiring! These are good jobs that we need people to come on board," he said. "We can get people, get them trained and operating as we move into the winter."

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