KITTANNING – This week’s heavy snowfall, and the traffic problems that arose from it, are perhaps a precursor to what lies ahead this winter, especially if more plow drivers can’t be found soon for one local PennDOT office.
“Armstrong County’s [PennDOT division] is down about 30 percent right now in staffing,” PennDOT District 10 spokesperson Tina Gibbs said last week.
She said that while the Clarion County operation still needs to find five or six seasonal workers this year, Armstrong County is in much more dire straits.
“We have more than 20 full-time vacancies,” she said of the Armstrong operation. “It’s been a rough year.”
Seasonal drivers are also being sought in Armstrong County, but it’s the full-time, year-round positions that are hampering the Armstrong crews most.
“We’ve got winter knocking on our door,” Gibbs said. “It poses a pretty good challenge.”
She said the problem in Armstrong County didn’t just surface, but has been going on for a while now.
“We made it through summer,” she said, “but for winter, it means our routes will take longer to complete. Back roads may see fewer passes than they’re used to seeing. No body wants to see that.”
But with fewer drivers, she said it means PennDOT has to do even more to prioritize which roads it hits first when snow falls.
To help find qualified candidates with commercial driver licenses, Gibbs said PennDOT is hosting open interviews with application assistance for equipment operators every Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., as well as a job fair on Nov. 29 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 504 South Water Street in Kittanning.
Equipment operators perform a variety of duties depending on the season. Seasonal positions will work through April doing snow removal, traffic control, equipment repair and maintenance, and truck unloading. For full-time positions, employees perform work on roadway construction and maintenance sites as part of a highway or bridge maintenance crew. Duties also include minor repairs to equipment and preventative maintenance for the trucks and equipment in addition to the winter season duties. Gibbs said the salary range is $37,144 to $48,489 annually, with various benefits and career advancement opportunities.
“If folks are looking to get their foot in the door with PennDOT, now is the time to do it,” she said, explaining that people will be on hand to help anyone fill out the applications. Additional information is also available on PennDOT’s website at www.employment.pa.gov.
“We’re trying to make it as easy as possible,” Gibbs said, noting that if everything is in order, prospective candidates could be interviewed and administered their driving test that day, with a possible job offer.
Those interested in employment with District 10 in Armstrong County can also contact the district office at (724) 543-1811 for more information.
“Anyone who thinks they’re interested, or knows someone who is looking, should come to the Armstrong County office on those dates,” she said of the open interviews and job fair.
“We have the trucks, but not the drivers,” she said.