Salting the roads

Herald-Standard

In this file photo, A PennDOT plow truck prepares Pricedale Road in Belle Vernon with salt.

Snow-covered roads in winter are a given.

But PennDOT having enough seasonal snow plow operators to treat and clear roads isn’t.

PennDOT District 12, consisting of Fayette, Greene, Washington and Westmoreland counties, is looking for plow drivers throughout the district.

It’s a challenge to find people to step into the role due to a high demand among other industries, including the Marcellus shale industry, for operators who have a commercial driver’s license.

PennDOT District 12 used 61,581 tons of salt and 819,248 gallons of brine last winter, according to a PennDOT winter services guide, underlining the gargantuan task PennDOT faces of keeping travel possible even in adverse winter conditions. Wages for equipment operators start at $16.72 an hour. Applicants must have graduated from a commercial driver’s license training school or have two months of experience operating and maintaining single-chassis trucks with a gross vehicle weight rating between 26,000 and 32,000 pounds with a tow greater than or equal to a 10,000-pound trailer, or have successfully completed the Transportation Equipment Operator Trainee Program, or have an equivalent combination of experience and training.

PennDOT spokeswoman Valerie Petersen couldn’t pinpoint precisely how many drivers PennDOT District 12 needs but said that even if the plow driver shortage holds, but PennDOT anticipated 104 temporary operators for District 12, according to its winter services guide.

PennDOT will do its job on the roads regardless of whether it hits its target, Petersen said.

“We get them passable,” Petersen said.

Motorists just need to take their time when winter strikes, Petersen said.

“Drivers should be patient like always,” Petersen said.

Those interested can apply for a snow plow operator position at www.penndot.gov/Jobs.

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