KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) – The Michigan Department of Transportation has contingency plans in place to keep the roads plowed, even if a COVID-19 outbreak causes staffing shortages.
Nick Schirripa, the MDOT spokesperson for the southwest region, says the department has also established safety protocols to help keep drivers healthy.
“Our garages are cleaned and disinfected regularly. We have two operators who are sharing a truck. They sanitize between each use,” Schirripa said.
Other protocols like mask wearing and social distancing are also used.
If there is a positive test in the garage, contact tracing is conducted to quarantine anyone at risk of being infected.
“Everybody is sent home, even if it’s only for a few hours, just to get the entire building sanitized. We’ve only had a handful of those over the last eight, nine months,” Schirripa said.
In a worst-case scenario, MDOT has plans to keep the roads plowed and bring in backup drivers if needed.
“We can rely not just on other garages but maybe a little bit on our local partners,” Schirripa said. “If worse comes to worse we can prioritize our routes.”
According to Schirripa, the MDOT salt supply is fully stocked and the pandemic has not caused shortages.
The department says its drivers know the crucial role they play and have been taking the pandemic protocols seriously.
“Our folks have been very dedicated and very vigilant about staying safe and keeping themselves and their coworkers protected,” Schirripa said.
As plows return to the roads, MDOT is asking people give operators a break as they try to keep highways safe during the pandemic.
“We have a pretty incredible staff of operators,” Schirripa said. “I think what we really want to ask is just people be mindful of them, mindful of the job they’re doing. Give them room.”