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Kansas faces staffing shortage for winter highway clearing

November 9, 2021 GMT

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas is facing a staffing shortage in its Department of Transportation that could slow the clearing of highways in winter storms, the agency said Tuesday.

The department said it is about 30% short of being fully staffed with snowplow operators across the state. The agency said the staffing shortage is worse this year than it has been in the past.

Transportation Secretary Julie Lorenz said the staffing shortage means that with inclement weather, some highways might not be cleared as quickly as they have been in the past. She said she’s warning motorists now so they can plan ahead or alter travel plans when the state faces winter storms.

She said the department also plans to shift its crews to the regions affected worst by storms and to pretreat highways and bridges whenever possible. She said snowplow operators work 12-hour shifts already.

Lorenz said the department also will deploy all employees with commercial driver’s licenses and hire seasonal employees to help clear highways.