Winter is just around the corner, and in preparation, the Missouri Department of Transportation will hold its annual winter operations drill on Thursday, Oct. 19. Motorists may notice an increased number of MoDOT vehicles on state routes during the drill, which will begin at 8 a.m. in rural areas and 9 a.m. in urban areas. The exercise should be completed by 3 p.m. With high turnover rates and many positions still open, driver training on this day is more critical than ever.
“While MoDOT has successfully hired approximately 100 new maintenance employees this summer, we’re still several hundred employees short of what’s needed to cover more than one shift in a statewide storm,” said MoDOT Chief Safety and Operations Officer Becky Allmeroth. “Nearly 27% of our snowplow operators have less than three years of experience. Those three years did not include many significant winter storms, making this training more critical than ever.”
MoDOT has more than 3,000 employees across the state involved in work to clear roads and bridges when winter weather hits. During the drill, MoDOT employees will react to a simulated forecast of significant snow for the entire state. The department’s emergency operations centers will activate, and all employees involved in winter operations will be deployed to their trucks. Emergency communications systems will also be tested.
“Safety is the cornerstone of everything we do at MoDOT,” said Allmeroth. “The drill ensures that proper equipment, plowing techniques, and safety measures are used by every MoDOT employee.” In addition, every piece of equipment—every truck, motor grader, snow blower, and tractor—is inspected and calibrated to conserve materials and operate efficiently and safely.
MoDOT spent $33 million on winter operations last year and used 63,000 tons of salt, 957,000 gallons of salt brine, and 147,000 gallons of beet juice.
For the most up-to-date information on road conditions in any winter storm, motorists are urged to use the Traveler Information Map at traveler.modot.org. The map is also available on the Apple Store and Google Play.