TRAFFIC

UDOT mechanics working hard to keep snowplow fleet on roads

Jan 18, 2024, 8:03 AM

Snowplow...

Snowplow driver shortage in Salt Lake County. (Photo: Canva)

(Photo: Canva)

SALT LAKE CITY — After a series of storms hit northern Utah, dozens of Utah Department of Transportation snowplows are now in the shop needing repairs. Mechanics are facing challenges and working overtime as they prepare for the state’s next major snowfall.

“Not much boredom here, we have a very diverse schedule. We don’t know if we’re working on a plow truck, a snowblower or a front-end loader, it changes every day,” said Wayne Jackson, lead heavy equipment shop mechanic.

With another round of storms comes another round of problems at the heart of UDOT’s operations in Salt Lake City.

“It means all hands on deck. It means we are here 24/7. We have crews that are working around the clock,” Jackson said. He is one of the 50 or so unsung heroes making sure the state’s more than 500 snowplows are up and running.

“With as many breakdowns as we do have it’s hard to keep on top of them,” Jackson said.

Needs range from hydraulics and electronics to cars crashing into the plows.

“This is evidence from drivers following too closely or their vehicle loses control because they’re traveling too fast they’ll run in and damage the spreader for the salt and the brine a lot of heavy effort to get that operational,” Jackson said as he shows damage on a plow that just came into the shop.

And when plows are stranded, Jackson goes to them just like he did here in Little Cottonwood Canyon during the last big storm.

“The extreme loads and the extreme workforce that’s put on them, they require a more severe repair schedule,” Jackson said. With 21 years under his belt, this season is more challenging than most.

“We are very understaffed at this point, unfortunately,” Jackson said. “We don’t have the time or the man-hours available to repair some of this.”

He and his team are working tirelessly to get those plows back out on the roads.

“It needs to go back out as soon as we can get it back out and functional,” he said.

One thing Jackson asks of resident drivers is to give the plows plenty of space so they don’t run into them and send another plow into his shop.

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UDOT mechanics working hard to keep snowplow fleet on roads