COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Before the first snowfall, the city of Columbus wants to hire and train new snowplow drivers to handle the workload of winter.
For the first time, the city gave members of the press the chance to experience what it’s like to drive a city plow at their street maintenance outpost. It included taking part in a massive obstacle course, which tests a driver’s ability to park, maneuver and street sweep.
“There’s a reason that we do all the training that we do — the classroom training, the hands-on work out here, the testing, the assessments, those types of things. There’s a reason for that, because this is not easy,” said Scott Tourville, the administrator of infrastructure management at the Columbus Department of Public Service.
Tourville said they do countless hours of training — both on and off the road — to prepare operators for the snow. It’s tough work, even for experienced drivers.
“It’s a challenge, coming out here,” said Tony Helm, a snowplow driver for the city of Columbus.
Helm, who has operated for more than 20 years, said he looks forward to helping the new employees that will be starting for the first time this winter.
“We got a lot of new people out there, so just be patient with us. We’re going to do the best that we can,” Helm said.
The Department of Public Service currently has around 120 operators, who are split in between day and night shifts. Tourville said even a minor snowstorm would require around 45 trucks to be on the road.
While the department isn’t at full capacity, he has high hopes they’ll be able to handle this winter.
“We’re actually very excited about our staffing levels at present, going into winter, that we’re going to be able to provide the level of service that we need to and is quite frankly expected of us,” Tourville said.
Tourville also said this winter, around 250 miles of Columbus’ priority three streets, which are located in subdivisions around residential areas, will be upgraded to priority two streets, which receive a higher level of maintenance.