DES MOINES — The calendar says we’re in the middle of autumn but it’s now wintertime, at least according to the Iowa Department of Transportation.
Craig Bargfrede, the DOT’s winter operations administrator, says they’ve been planning for the cold weather driving season for months, and they are prepped for winter every year by October 15th, which was this past Sunday.
“From a material standpoint, we’re sitting in a very good position statewide about at 104% of capacity, which is about 253,000 tons of salt stored in the garages all spread across the state,” Bargfrede says. “We have 101 garages across the state and a few offsite locations that the salt is stored in.”
DOT staffers are staying in good practice and Bargfrede says they’re ready for that first snowfall. “Training has been underway,” he says. “Each fall, we do hands-on training with the field staff. We have a driving simulator that our field staff take a two-hour course, kind of a refresher course, for the most part.”
While October 15th may seem a bit early for winter conditions to set it, Bargfrede says the DOT never wants to be caught unprepared. “Our staff start reporting winter road conditions on 511,” he says. “They start prepping, finalizing equipment prep, calibration on our equipment. There’s a litany of tasks that they have to do and complete and have ready to go around that October 15 timeframe.”
The DOT is looking for more snowplow operators, especially if you’re CDL certified. Call your nearest DOT garage for more information, or visit Iowa iowadot.gov/careers.