Lack of Workers Causing Snow Problems

By Marissa Frazier

On February 3, many towns surrounding Franklin County sent out a statement warning that all vehicles should use off-road parking if possible. This snow storm was the worst we’d had this winter, and according to the City of St. Clair, Missouri Facebook page, crews would be making multiple passes down each road during the duration of the storm and that it would cause driveways and mailboxes to be plowed in. Multiple different trash services were also canceled and postponed due to the weather. In fact, a winter weather reminder was posted listing: Residents should not park on the street during a winter snow even (as said before), property owners are responsible for flowing commercial parking lots, driveways, and public sidewalks adjoining their homes and businesses, shovel snow from driveways into the grass areas and not the street in order to prevent creating dangerously slippery conditions for both motorists and pedestrians, shove out fire hydrants that are in and around your property (and around meters to aid utility meter readers), clear sidewalks of snow for the safety of pedestrians and children walking to school, uncover your mailbox and clear a path for letter carriers in vehicles, help your neighbors as for many of them age or medical conditions make it difficult to shovel snow without risking health, do not attempt to pass or pull out in front of a snow plow, stay at least 200 feet away from plows at all times, gather your necessities before it snows in order for the snow plows and those working, and maintain a safe distance between vehicles and decrease your typical driving speeds to allow additional time to stop.

Throughout the state, since the start of the snow storm, the Missouri State Highway Patrol responded to 2,679 calls for service, 1,578 stranded motorists, and 556 crashes. The Missouri National Guard were positioned across Missouri and were assisting with stranded motorists, and the Missouri Department of Transportation crews had driven a reported 800,000 miles while using 10,000 tons of salt, according to Governor Mike Parsons. Parsons also had said many crews were going on their third straight 12-hour shift and would continue working into the weekend. According to the National Weather Service, many places in Franklin County received over 8 inches of snow, with Washington reportedly earning 11.5 inches. Union overall received 11.0 inches, with St. Clair recovered 10.8. 

Listed below is the full list from the National Weather Service website:

1 E Washington               11.5 in

Union                        11.0 in

St. Clair 3.7 W              10.8 in

1 NNW Villa Ridge            10.5 in

1 N Villa Ridge              10.5 in

Labadie 2.4 E                10.1 in

Gerald                       9.5 in

Saint Clair                  9.0 in

2 SE Matson                  8.8 in

3 N Union                    8.8 in

New Haven                    8.8 in

3 E Lyon                     8.8 in

3 NW Gray Summit             8.5 in

Villa Ridge                  8.5 in

New Haven 2.3 S              8.4 in

Leslie                       8.0 in

3 S New Haven                7.5 in

Sullivan                     7.0 in

Washington                   7.0 in

3 WNW Washington             7.0 in

Lonedell                     6.5 in

3 W Lyon                     6.5 in

Catawissa 3.0 SSE            5.3 in

Catawissa                    5.0 in

Gray Summit                  4.8 in

One of the biggest issues with these snow storms were the lack of MODOT workers, making everyone have to work extra and possibly causing the roads, etc. to be worse. The lack of workers made it more difficult to clear roads, or even prepare the roads before the storms hit. Why is there a lack of workers though? According to Hassinger, they had been experiencing a “pretty high turnover at MODOT for several years now,” there are less experienced people, and salaries are nowhere near close to the market rate—making it hard to attract potential applicants. According to Missourinet, a MODOT maintenance worker starts at around $15.35 an hour while Amazon employees earn $21 an hour. That’s more than a five dollar difference. For over six months, MODOT’s chief safety and operations officer Becky Allmeroth explained that they have been losing over 70 employees each month. While according to KSMU, there were winter operations in order to get those working familiar with their routes, it would still take much longer in order to plow all the roads in a timely manner. The best way to fix this is to raise the pay in order to attract more people to the jobs, but until then MODOT director Patrick McKenna informed people to avoid any unnecessary travel in inclement weather, and to be as safe as possible. 

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