Staffing shortage at Whatcom County Public Works could affect snow response

A staffing shortage within Whatcom County Public Works may have an impact on the county's winter weather response, the department announced. 

Running at capacity, the department would typically have 54 trained Commercial Driver's License (CDL) drivers for emergency work, which includes snow plow operations. 

According to the county, resources are limited to 40 employees with "sufficient training and licenses to perform this work." 

"Several factors have contributed to this shortage, including the booming construction economy placing a premium on equipment operator jobs, experienced workers retiring, recent FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) regulation changes that impacted County processes and ability to acquire CDL licensing, and the pandemic limiting CDL training opportunities for staff," the Public Works department said.  

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As a result of these staffing shortages, Public Works is asking residents to be prepared and make a contingency plan in case the department can't get out and plow certain roads. 

Public Works said it will likely take crews longer to get to secondary roads due to the lack of operators. 

Residents can see how the county prioritizes roads during winter storms here

Know before you go: Winter weather driving tips, what to keep in your car

With colder weather and mountain snow hitting the region, drivers must once again start thinking about winter driving and road safety.