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MoDOT expecting longer wait times for snow clearing due to driver shortage

"We are not resilient to COVID," says a MODOT engineer.

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — The first real snow of the season means our transportation teams are kicking into high gear. Like many things since COVID-19 hit in 2020, the definition of "high gear" is changing for the Missouri Department of Transportation. 

"When you factor in COVID and sicknesses... yeah it's going to take us longer than we would like and that many of our citizens are used to, to clear the roads," MoDOT Engineer Tom Blair said Friday afternoon in a press conference outside the Transportation Management Center. 

Blair adds that for many drivers, this will be their first experience with plows. There will be ride-a-longs for the new operators and that will also slow routes. 

MODOT plans to have as many available crews working the roads as possible. Because Saturday morning is not a commute day, engineers expect the roads to be a little safer than had this snow come in on a weekday. 

RELATED: MoDOT urges drivers to be careful on roads this weekend

If you've been driving around the past few days, you may have seen MODOT trucks out brining, unfortunately, the forecast changed and that work was probably all for not. 

"As you all know the forecast can change sometimes," MoDOT Engineer Bob Becker laments, "the plan was it wasn't supposed to come in as rain like it is tonight. Unfortunately, had we have known that, we wouldn't have started brining ahead of time. We had plans to continue that today and then when the forecast changed we opted not to and just be ready when that storm happens tonight."

5 On Your Side touched base with the Illinois Department of Transportation Friday afternoon. IDOT crews will hit their roads two hours before the snow arrives.

FORECAST: Winter Storm Alert: Here are the predicted snow totals for Friday night through Saturday