Wausau snowplow drivers prepare for snow season

Published: Oct. 6, 2021 at 9:29 PM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - A lack of snowplow drivers is not stopping the determination of City of Wausau’s Public Works Department to keep the streets clear and safe this winter.

Public Works Supervisor Kevin Koester said the department is seeing a worker shortage like the rest of the country.

“We’re 5 plow routes short of a full plow route,” Koester explained. “We are extremely short staffed right now.”

This is not normal for the department, according to Koester.

“Twelve years ago when I started, we had four or five drivers that were back-up drivers,” Koester said. “A back-up is going to be a driver that’s going to take over for the main crew when they go home to rest.”

Koester said people of Wausau should expect delays this season. He and the drivers are asking people to be patient.

“We will get there,” said heavy equipment operator, Mike Beran. “It may not be in the normal, quick response, but we will get there. We will figure out a way to get it done as we always have.”

Wednesday, the city’s drivers participated in an annual “Snowplow Rodeo.” The drivers focused on equipment checks, driver training and plow routes.

“It gives us an opportunity to go through all the plow routes in your priorities and your mains, to figure out which ones we’re going to plow first,” Koester explained. “The drivers are going to have to work together to get the job done this year.”

Despite the department’s staff shortage, Koester said the city will not suffice with salting the roads.

“Our focus here is definitely not to use more salt,” Koester explained. “We will get our two graders. We will have to cut the ice and get it to the curb, but we’re going to try to not use more salt.”

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