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DOT increasing emergency snowplow drivers

BY AARON WALKER | OCTOBER 02, 2014 5:00 AM

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Some Iowa City streets will see an increase in the number of emergency snowplow drivers this winter.

The Iowa Department of Transportation will increase the number of temporary snowplow drivers from approximately 300 or 400 per season to around 600 for the coming winter season.

“With extra plow operators plowing highways in the city, that will really help keep some of the main routes through town clean and [allow us to] focus on our own,” said Jon Ressler, the Iowa City streets superintendent.

Ressler said the Iowa City Public Works crew plows the majority of the Iowa City streets, but the Iowa DOT plows the highways that pass through Iowa City, including state Highway 1 and U.S. Highway 6.

Rick Fosse, director of Iowa City Public Works, said the staffing model works well for the DOT.

“[Drivers] work two 12-hour shifts, so numerous days [of work] do really fatigue employees,” he said. “It will give them greater depth so they won’t have to stress their drivers as much.”

Wendy Moorehead, the strategic communications manager at the University of Iowa Facilities Management, said the UI doesn’t receive assistance from the state to plow institutional roads.

DOT employees said there is a need to have more plow drivers during extreme weather conditions over extended periods of time.

“This year, we decided to expand the number of positions, because demand over long durations [means] we need a larger pool of workers,” said Andrea Henry, the DOT director of strategic communication.

Henry said the department does this to ensure members of the public can get back to clear roadways during and after snowstorms.

“Harsh winter weather takes a toll on full-time and seasonal employees,” Henry said.

She said the DOT will increase the number of positions in order to ensure safely and mobility for those traveling on Iowa roads.

Jim Schnoebelen, an engineer at the Iowa DOT’s District 6, which covers a range of counties including Linn and Johnson, said the rise in the number of temporary employees won’t necessarily lead to a rise in the number of full-time positions.

The DOT lists temporary positions for winter snowplow drivers in more than 100 cities on its website, including jobs in Coralville, Muscatine, and Cedar Rapids.

The jobs run from Oct. 15 to April 15 and pay $11.39-16.13 per hour.

“Temporary employees are called in as needed to fill in when full-time staff can’t meet the teams’ existing [needs],” Schnoebelen said. “We just want to have the appropriate number of drivers out there when we need them.”


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