The Maine Department of Transportation is facing a shortage of plow truck drivers and is trying to get the word out about its vacant positions.
MaineDOT has about 700 plow truck drivers to clear snow and ice off interstates and highways, but they also have dozens of openings for drivers.
MaineDOT regional manager Tom Roberts said the state ideally wants two drivers for every one plow truck. That way when one gets tired another can take over.
MaineDOT had 92 openings for plow truck drivers, as of Tuesday. The department is advertising to try and fill those positions and will train people to get certified.
“We don’t put them out there until we feel comfortable and they feel comfortable doing it,” Roberts said.
Roberts said the problem is as soon as one gets trained, another might leave for a better job.
“We put a lot of time into training them and getting people certified,” Roberts said. “And see a lot of them go shortly after they start. It’s a tough act on the wintertime.”
MaineDOT maintenance and operations director Dale Doughty said they were able to maintain state highways during the recent nor’easter, but he also said they can’t afford to lose any more drivers.
“So far, yes, we’ve been able to meet those levels of service,” Doughty said. “But I’m always concerned. That’s part of my job is to worry about that a little bit, not only the shortage but the inexperience of our drivers.”
With five drivers out sick with the flu, Roberts called in drivers from the midcoast to help with Tuesday night’s storm.
State plow truck drivers start around $13.50 per hour, but Roberts said the raises and bonuses can add up quickly.
MaineDOT is also using smaller plow trucks to clear some roads and exit ramps for drivers who aren’t yet certified.
“We’re looking at smaller trucks in some locations,” Doughty said. “The difficulty there is we’re plowing state highways, the larger party highways in the state.”
All are full-time jobs with state benefits.
To find out more or to apply, call MaineDOT and either apply online or in person at any of its statewide locations.