July 30, 2014

Statewide exercise to prep MODOT workers for winter

The Missouri Department of Transportation has completed the personnel changes that were a part of its Bolder 5-year Plan, including the reduction of more than 1,100 employees. On Wednesday the Department will hold a statewide drill to test its ability to respond to a winter storm.

MODOT snowplows will be out on Halloween, but there isn’t expected to be any snow. (Picture courtesy: Missouri Department of Transportation)

Special Projects Coordinator Bob Brendel says it’s a chance for maintenance workers who have recently been hired or have changed districts to get used to new surroundings and routes.

“We’ve changed our district boundaries. We’ve reduced facilities. We’ve reduced employees. We’ve moved new people into maintenance. So, this drill is just going to simulate a snowstorm and deployment of our plows and people around the state.”

Department representatives have maintained that it can handle even a storm on the scale of the 2011 blizzard with its reduced and reshuffled staff. Brendel says there is no doubt about that.  “We absolutely can. It’s just, our response is going to look a little different because we’re operating from fewer facilities. We may not get to some routes as quickly as we did before, but we will get to them.”

The staff won’t know how bad the storm being simulated is until the drill is underway.  “Part of the drill is activating our emergency operations centers, our communications system and then letting (maintenance staff) know what size storm is on the horizon.”

Brendel says Missourians shouldn’t be surprised by what they see on Wednesday.  “Recognize that there are going to be MODOT trucks out with plows on them and although they’re not going to be spreading salt or actually plowing anything, you still need to give them room when they’re out there on the highways.”

Crews in rural areas will deploy after 8 a.m. In urban areas the drill will begin after 9 a.m. It will take approximately six hours.