A proposal to contract with a private sector company to supply commercially licensed drivers to serve as temporary snow plow drivers when needed was cleared Monday evening by Joplin City Council.
Dan Johnson, deputy director of public works for engineering, said this was the first time the city had run out of CDL drivers and looked to the private sector to clean the streets during winter storms.
Private companies do not have the necessary equipment to carry out the work, but the city has 13 trucks that can be fitted with equipment such as snow plows, spreader boxes and brine systems to treat and clear. the streets.
Crews work 12-hour shifts until the pavement is clear on main streets, but a shortage of drivers prevented the city from filling those two shifts per day last year, he said. we learned in the council. The city still has a few drivers. They will staff the day shifts and the contract drivers will work at night.
Only one company bid for the work, Jeff Asbell Excavating & Trucking Inc. This company is already doing snow removal at the Joplin Regional Airport.
Under the approved contract, the company will provide a supervisor or foreman and up to nine licensed drivers at a cost of $ 1,015 per hour or $ 12,180 for a 12-hour shift. If the city experiences the usual three to five winter storms, the costs of using contract drivers could range from $ 73,000 to $ 183,000. It would be paid from street funds provided by the transportation sales tax.
Lynden Lawson, the deputy director of public works for operations, said that during a winter storm it is important that motorists do not interfere with trucks and equipment.
“Please don’t try to overtake our city trucks while they are doing their job because they are looking through two rear view mirrors, a large front windshield and, at the same time, they are trying to manipulate their equipment to ensure that they are only putting so much of the mixture behind them. So they’ve got a lot going on, ”Lawson said.
“If you don’t need to be on the street at this time, please stay home until the streets are clear,” Lawson said.
A pre-treatment is put in place to put a barrier between the ice surface and the pavement so that the plows can more completely remove frozen precipitation.
The city has only enough equipment and crews to clean the main streets. Trucks try to plow in front of schools and tram stops.
Businesses and residents are responsible for cleaning their properties and driveways.
The city’s neighborhood planning and development is a list of community groups that could provide people to clear the aisles of elderly or disabled residents, he said.
Last winter, the city had only enough staff to carry out half-shifts. “We knew we had to do something. This shortage of CDL drivers isn’t just in the town of Joplin, ”Johnson said.
The Missouri Department of Transportation and the Kansas Department of Transportation have also previously released reports that they are running low on drivers and motorists can expect lower levels of service this year. People may have to stay more at home and not travel if roads and highways cannot be cleared so quickly, Johnson said.
MoDOT said in October it would hold training exercises because 20% of its drivers have been recently hired. The department has lost about 70 employees per month over the past six months, MoDOT officials said.
“We are several hundred employees below what we need to cover more than a shift during a statewide storm,” said Patrick McKenna, director of MoDOT, in an October press release. “If a widespread winter storm lasts longer than a 12-hour shift, we won’t have enough employees to fill all the trucks on the second shift, so it will take longer to clear the roads.
The Kansas Department of Transportation lacks about 30 percent of snowplough operators to be fully staffed statewide, the agency said in November.
“The KDOT faces significant staff shortages in some areas and will work proactively to clean up Kansas’ highways by moving crews to affected areas and pre-treating highways and bridges where possible,” he said. Secretary Julie Lorenz said in a November statement.
Kansas will transfer commercially licensed drivers from other departments to help with seasonal road clearing and continues to try to hire drivers.
Johnson said the Joplin decision “took a lot of deliberation over our options. We had good examples to work with and made many contacts to consider ways to deal with the driver shortage. “