Monday, October 18, 2021

DIA and CDOT driver shortages mean less airport parking, slower snow plowing on some roads

The same shortage of drivers that worries trucking companies has led to a shortage of parking at Denver International Airport on busy weekends. And wide vacancies in the state road crew bound for the snow season in Colorado mean plowing after a storm can take longer.

Shuttle operator DIA and the Colorado Department of Transportation are working together to recruit more than 200 drivers to work that will play a role in keeping the state’s transportation system running. But with a labor shortage across the economy, it’s hard for them to find enough people with a driver’s license.

So far, the relatively smaller DIA shortage – 45 unfilled vacancies – has prevented the airport from reopening the large and cheap shuttle dock at Pikes Peak, while passenger traffic has nearly recovered from last year’s pandemic lows.

The parking situation hit a tipping point for the first time on Saturday, when all of the DIA’s garages and lots were nearly full or nearly full. The DIA reported that some heavy travel was attributed to Columbus Day, and by Tuesday all lots were more available.

On Tuesday, the CDOT predicted it could manage its more-than-usual number of driver vacancies, with some adjustments. Company spokesman Matt Inzeo said its large maintenance and operations department, which employs about 1,400 employees, will use more overtime and use other licensed employees as backups.

But with a tighter workforce, CDOT regions will follow priorities, which means interstate areas are the primary focus after severe storms, said John Lorm, director of maintenance and operations. Snow clearance may be delayed on some streets, exits and exits, and bridges, including on the Denver subway.

“We’re not ignoring anything, I’ll tell you that,” Lorm said. “But we prioritize. … We will hit them all. “

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About half of the 1,400 workers are maintenance technicians whose main tasks include working as snowplows day and night after storms. As of last week, CDOT was short of 191 such workers, or about 21% of budgetary positions, although several job fairs in recent weeks have reduced the shortage.

A year ago, the CDOT had 77 vacancies, a number that is more typical, Lorm said, given retirement, promotions and employee turnover.

The starting CDOT salary for road repair professionals based at outposts across the state is $ 40,164, or just over $ 19 an hour, plus benefits. These employees receive a 10% boost after their first year, and drivers in higher-value communities are eligible for a housing stipend – about $ 500 a month in most of Denver’s metro and up to $ 800 a month in some mountainous areas along the interstate. 70.

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