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23 CHAPTER SIX INSTITUTIONAL AND WORKFORCE ISSUES Survey responses indicated several varied institutional and ity alternatives and view the resulting consequences of their workforce issues. As might be expected, these issues are often selections. characterized by the need to balance conflicting interests and demands on the part of the public and executive levels. Iron- Organizations use a variety of maintenance skill levels for ically, success in meeting maintenance goals set through close snow removal from entry level to master level, with the mas- observation of these interests and demands frequently serves ter level more prevalent on rotary plows, snowblowing, and to further increase the expectations. operation of V plows. Similarly, all skill levels conduct sand- ing and salting activities, whereas anti-icing and deicing are One problem area is public expectation and policies toward done by journey- and master-level workers 88% of the time. bare roads. A number of states have implemented bare roads Other master-level activities identified include avalanche con- policies. Once in place, the expectation by the public is that trol, pay loader, snow route supervisor, and ice removal. highways will be cleared immediately and that driving con- ditions will be commensurate with clear pavement conditions. A handful of the agencies reported that they experience dif- Public awareness campaigns that emphasize caution during ficulties accomplishing winter maintenance as a result of inad- winter driving, while explaining the efforts of maintenance equate workforce skills or high turnover rates. These diffi- forces to clear roads, could be very effective in addressing culties are particularly pronounced during early winter storms this problem. when the workforce is not fully staffed for winter operations. On average, just over 15% of the workforce available for Training, particularly with regard to the handling of liquids winter operations is considered entry level, just over 53% is used for pre-wetting and anti-icing, is also a problem experi- considered journey level, and the remainder (32%) is con- enced by many agencies with winter maintenance responsibil- sidered master level. In general, turnover rates for the journey ities. Not surprisingly, the primary winter maintenance opera- and master level are low, ranging from 5% to 10%. Entry- tions identified by highway agencies are plowing, sanding/ level turnover rates average approximately 10%, with very salting, and application of anti-icing materials. Also identified few agencies reporting entry-level turnover rates above 45%, were other snow removal operations such as snowblowing and and one agency reporting 90% for this category. The limited rotary plowing. budgets available for both adequate numbers of personnel and their training also present problems for maintenance Several agencies commented on the importance of having managers. This problem quickly multiplies the effects of the trained winter maintenance personnel and the difficulties asso- issues already discussed. ciated with delivering this training effectively and efficiently. Advances in technology compound this problem, as person- Added emphasis on environmental protection also affects nel need more and more technically specialized training to maintenance operations, particularly with regard to the use of make use of advanced equipment and materials. AASHTO chemicals and abrasives. This added emphasis elevates the has developed a computer-based training program for RWIS importance of training skill and the optimization of the appli- and anti-icing. The project's primary goal has been to create cation rates of treatment materials. an interactive, computer-based training program that is com- prehensive at three levels: equipment operators, supervisors, Highway agencies were asked to rate several potential and middle managers. The program was unveiled during 2003 improvement and current research areas aimed at aiding and is very promising, covering information needed by all snowplow operations. Snowplow operator training and test- users, such as basic meteorology and chemistry. Users will ing was identified as an essential important improvement be able to customize the program to include such variables as area by 85% of the agencies, whereas 80% noted forward climatic information for their region, treatments for specific lighting as an essential improvement area. Nighttime con- local road conditions, and regional and local weather fore- spicuity (lighting) and daytime conspicuity (snowplow col- casting and monitoring. Operators, supervisors, and managers ors, lighting, etc.) were considered essential by 55% and can then perform simulations for a range of maintenance activ- 41% of agencies, respectively.

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24 Other improvement areas were considered good ideas by Improvements to the driver's vision contrast sensitivity; the agencies, but were not, on average, judged essential. These Better in-cab systems to provide location, near-real-time include the following: operation data, communications with a base station, and proximity radar; Better snowplow cabin display and control arrange- Lane departure integrated into the warning system; and ments; Magnetic edge line and tactual seat response.