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Clearing snow-covered roads in Ohio may take longer because of a driver shortage

snow plows 2 ODOT.jpg
Ohio Department of Transportation drivers clear highways and interstates outside city limits. ODOT, like all employers needing CDL drivers, are having a hard time getting them.

Your neighborhood street and the interstate you travel on to get to work or school may be snow covered longer this winter thanks to driver shortages.

As of Friday, there were 15 openings at the Ohio Department of Transportation’s District 8 Office. The District already has 247 drivers.

Press Secretary Matt Bruning says ODOT is having to compete with many other businesses looking for qualified drivers and there just aren’t enough people with CDL licenses.

“The supply of CDL drivers isn’t really matching that demand, so that’s where ODOT is in the same boat that people like Amazon, Rumpke or any of those other folks who rely on CDL drivers are,” he says.

Here is ODOT’s snow and ice information page.

Bruning says it’s really the bigger cities where the transportation department is having a tougher time finding drivers.

“At ODOT we have a goal of getting our main routes back up to speed within two hours of the end of a storm event,” Bruner explains. “And that’s a goal that we hit 95% of the time last winter. It very well may take a little longer this year if we don’t have the qualified drivers that we need to fill all the seats in all the trucks.”

Cincinnati plans to use enhanced data and analytics to improve its plowing. At a news conference Wednesday, the Department of Public Works showed off its salt pile and asked for patience.

“Staffing levels are always going to go up and down,” says Jarrod Bolden, superintendent of the city's Traffic and Road Operation. “We don’t have enough drivers for 3,300 lane miles to put a driver on every street, but we have enough drivers that our motto is that 24 hours after the last snow fall, we aim to have a passable lane on every city street.”

To find out when your street might be cleared in Cincinnati, use the Snow Plow Tracker.

To report dangerous streets from snow and ice download the Fix It Cincy! mobile app.

Meanwhile, in Kentucky, Nancy Wood from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet says, “District wide, we have 120 trucks available (contract and state), we are down some trucks from last year but have worked with counties and engineering professionals at the University of Kentucky to study and optimize our routes.”

Ann Thompson has years of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market and brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting. She has reported for WKRC, WCKY, WHIO-TV, Metro Networks and CBS/ABC Radio. Her work has been recognized by the Associated Press and the Society of Professional Journalists. In 2019 and 2011 A-P named her “Best Reporter” for large market radio in Ohio. She has won awards from the Association of Women in Communications and the Alliance for Women in Media. Ann reports regularly on science and technology in Focus on Technology