Although the temperature is expected to be in the low 70s for the next few days, it is November and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is looking in earnest for additional snow plow drivers.

In a news conference Thursday at the maintenance center on Route 19 in Ross, the department said it is about 15 drivers short of its normal complement in Allegheny County. The department had a recruiting event Wednesday in O’Hara to try to attract more drivers that drew a moderate turnout.

“We would have liked up have had more,” said Ben DeVore, the department’s maintenance director for Allegheny County. “I think we’re in a pretty good place because when I say we’re 15 short that’s not counting people who are in the pipeline. We’ll be OK.”

PennDOT has 132 positions budgeted for winter maintenance operations in Allegheny County, plus contracts with 18 private companies. Applicants who have their CDL license can be hired and on the road in about two weeks.

Drivers who don’t have their CDL can be paid while they receive training and qualify under a program the department started last year to address the shortage of operators. Devore said about 30 trainees applied during an August recruiting session, and some have completed the six-week process already and are part of the crew.

The pay for fully trained drivers starts at $22.83 an hour. Trainees receive slightly less.

The department also used the news conference to highlight winter driving and safety tips.

Yasmeen Manyisha, the department’s safety officer for Allegheny, Beaver and Lawrence counties, encouraged drivers to fully clean snow off their vehicles, allow greater distance between vehicles and put their vehicle through a maintenance check to make sure the battery, tires and hoses are in good shape for winter weather. She also recommended drivers have an emergency kit that includes items such flares, jumper cables, blankets, nonperishable food and water, a phone charger and a small snow shovel.

Ed covers transportation at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at

Ed Blazina

Ed covers transportation at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at