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State shortage of plow drivers is only impacting some municipalities

The crisis of drivers is so bad at the state level that DOT has put out an open recruitment call.

CONNECTICUT, USA — For many, Monday was a reminder of the backbreaking work that comes along with a New England winter. This year, in some areas, the people needed to do that work just don’t exist.

The CT DOT told FOX61 they have the budget to hire another 600 workers tomorrow but they can’t find anybody. It’s a combination of a wave of state retirements, lingering COVID concerns, and a lack of CDL license holders.

Plow driving isn’t for everybody. “The pro is you are out there making money. The con is it is freezing,” said plow driver Milton Cortez.

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 It’s a job that requires you to get up early, work long hours and run on caffeine. “Like most professions, it’s a certain breed that really enjoys and ramps up for it. The rest of us just tolerate it,” remarked Meriden DPW Director John Lawlor.

Lawlor is also the state Director of the New England Public Works Association and told FOX61 both big cities and small towns have trouble manning their plows but Meriden is lucky. “We have enough drivers and enough pieces of equipment where we are able to maintain our operation in-house,” said Lawlor.

The crisis of drivers is so bad at the state level that DOT has put out an open recruitment call.

“We're seeing it nationwide and that’s a shortage of CDL drivers. People who operate these large trucks plow the roads. We are short-staffed for some of these larger storms. We ask the public to have some patience. It may take us a little bit longer to clear the roads than in years past,” explained Josh Morgan of the CT DOT.

Clearing the roads is something Milton Cortez knows all about. He works for Lazer Scapes. The snow and tree removal company out of Newington is getting ready for the busy commercial and residential snow plowing season. “We’ve got enough guys. Enough trucks. We’ve got loaders and bobcats as well. We’ve got snow shovelers. We’re ready,” said Milton Cortez.

Cortez told FOX61 being a plow driver isn’t just about hard labor. In many ways, it’s a science and an art form. Each snow presents its own unique challenges. “We pretreated the roads before and then came back and stayed on top of it throughout the night,” said Cortez.

The state DOT adds that it’s not just plow drivers. They also need more mechanics to keep their equipment in good working order. Right now the state has about 900 plow drivers and 600 trucks. That may sound like a lot but spread out across the state and factoring in sick calls they are looking to add another 175.


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