Snow plow operators push through long hours to clear roadways

Operators want to remind drivers out on the roads to give snow plows plenty of room and slow down.

Posted: Feb 25, 2019 10:16 PM

ROCHESTER, Minn. - Snow plow drivers across the area have their work cut out for them this winter.

The repetitive snowfall is causing them to work long hours with very few days off.

Even when the snowfall stopped, snow plow operators still have a lot of work to do with clean up.

This is Chad Lisser's thirteenth winter driving for the Minnesota Department of Transportation, but that doesn't make the job any easier.

"You're out there, it's dark, you're stressed I mean it's a very high stress," Lisser said. "People don't understand that."

When you work for the state, you rotate on 12-hour shifts.

In the past month, Lisser's had only three days off so it's been a long winter so far.

He avoids caffeine and sugar so he doesn't crash. Instead, he utilizes the time he has on breaks.

"I mean if you have to you'll bundle up your breaks and take a half hour snooze," Lisser said. "I mean that's everything. If you have to you have to."

Schedules for Rochester Public Works' operators are different.

"We try to get people home through the end of the day so we'll typically work til like 7 at night," Dan Plizga, the infrastructure maintenance supervisor with Rochester Public Works, said, "and then we'll start up early so that the city buses and school can get around and people can get to work."

The maximum their drivers can work is 16 hours, and Plizga said the 45 operators like to power through.

Operators want to remind driver out on the roads to give snow plows plenty of room and slow down.

"We'll give them the option to take a lunch or not," Plizga said. "Most of them typically don't because they just want to keep the momentum going and stay on their routes."

But it's a taxing job with always something to think about.

"Conditions are always changing, you gotta always be checking your mirrors. Cars can sneak up behind you. These trucks have a huge blind spot," Plizga said. "So if you're not always looking behind you, you might go to back up and there's going to be a car there."

Operators want to remind drivers out on the roads to give snow plows plenty of room and slow down.

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