The Missouri Department of Transportation continues battling staffing shortages as winter approaches.

MoDOT Director Patrick McKenna told Missourinet affiliate KFRU in Columbia that the agency will have its hands full if this winter is severe or if there’s a big winter storm.

“We’ve got the first shift, which is the first 12 hours of a storm — we’ll have adequate coverage (then),” McKenna said. “(But) when we get into those multi-shift storms it’s going to be difficult for us. It will just take us longer to clear (roads) and to have people be satisfied with the clearing.”

McKenna said MoDOT is nearly 800 people short of having enough permanent and seasonal staff to quickly handle an all-day winter storm.

“That includes staff that are full-time here as well as emergency staff that we bring in on a temporary basis.”

The shortage is reflected in a sharp drop in the number of labor hours performed since 2018.

“(From) 2018 to last year, we actually had 1.9 million fewer labor hours – if you can believe that – almost two million labor hours short of where we were just a few years ago,” McKenna said. “We had a lot of turnover; we’re not making progress on staffing.”

He did say they’ve been able to slow down the turnover but have not yet returned to previous staffing levels.

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