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MODOT is Preparing Now for Winter

Winter weather is still months away, but the Missouri Department of Transportation is already thinking about the white stuff. KSMU’s Michele Skalicky has more…

It’s a beautiful summer day—cool for this time of year, but nowhere near the time of year when we need to worry about snow and ice. But MODOT employees are working this week to prepare for winter weather. They’re taking part in a snow academy at the Springfield office. The academies are conducted at all 10 MODOT districts in the state. In Springfield, around 350 area employees will attend the academy…

"It's a refresher course in dump truck, in snow plow, in plowing with a dump truck and with a loader that's used on the lots to load the trucks with salt and other materials."

Driving courses for both snow plow drivers and those driving loaders test skills such as safety, making turns and backing. The snowplow drivers have to try to knock down metal bars located right next to mailboxes without touching the mailboxes. The also had to maneuver thru tight spaces outlined with cones.Dan Ream is maintenance superintendent at the Springfield office…

"We're looking for skills and not necessarily their speed but their accuracy."

In a real-life situation, snow plow drivers will be out often in the dark on snowy and icy roads, and the course can’t simulate those conditions. But MODOT spokesman Bob Edwards says it help drivers anyway…

"It gets people thinking about their distances and the turns that are necessary."

Snow is still months away, so why hold a snow academy now? Dan Reams explains...

"We start preparing for winter this early. We're getting our salt in right now, we're preparing our blades and our snow plows and our sanders. Everything needs to be ready, and we don't want to have any problems when it gets a little bit later."

Drivers not only have to test their skills on the snowplow and on loaders, they also have to test their pre-trip inspection knowledge.

Once the driving tests are finished, employees must pass a written test.After stepping down from a loader, MODOT employee Lynette Miller says, while the course isn’t like the real thing, the exercise is a good experience…

"Well, if you're out at 3 o'clock in the morning, and you're fighting a blizzard, this does not really compare to that as much because you're fighting to stay awake, you're fighting blowing snow, slick roads. The only difference is, like he just told me, he said I was a little bit long on my time. I said, 'you just don't get in any hurry.' You know, that's not our object out here is to hurry up and do something, you know, it's take your time, do a good job and don't get hurt and don't get anybody else hurt."

All full-time maintenance staff and other full-time staff who are routinely called on to plow snow are required to participate in the academies. Once testing is complete, results will be used to identify any additional training employees might need.For KSMU News, I’m Michele Skalicky.