SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Monday marked the first widespread snowfall of the season.
The City of Syracuse didn’t get much this time around, which gives the Department of Public Works (DPW) more of a chance to get new drivers trained and fill nearly a dozen open spots.
The city’s DPW staffing shortage has some neighbors worried about what this winter could bring.
Mandy Baran has lived on Tennyson Avenue in the Tipperary Hill neighborhood for the last two years, and her winters in Syracuse haven’t always been a breeze.
As a Lyft driver, Baran depends on Syracuse DPW plows to clear the snow on her street in order to do her job, but she’s concerned the department’s driver shortage could slow her down this Winter.
“This is one of the snowiest areas in the entire region so knowing that, it makes me a little bit concerned about how the roads are going to be taken care of and how everyone is going to drive,” Baran explained.
Tien Tran has also lived on Tennyson Avenue for the last six years. He said he’s worried their street won’t be prioritized this Winter, especially with it being a one-way street.
Syracuse DPW Commissioner, Jeremy Robinson, said his department is in need of eight to ten more drivers and has five open mechanic positions.
“I couldn’t keep people from trying to come here and work. Now it’s like we’re begging people to come here, and work and drivers are premium. It’s not just Syracuse DPW. It’s everywhere in the nation so it’s tough.”JEREMY ROBINSON, COMMISSIONER, SYRACUSE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS
Despite not having a full fleet of drivers, Robinson is reassuring neighbors the city’s plows, equipment and technology are ready to brave the storms.
This year the city’s plows are equipped with new tablets to help drivers better navigate the city and put their focus on plowing.
The city’s DPW is also working with retired snowplow drivers on an as-needed basis to try and meet the demand this Winter.
The New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) is also experiencing staffing challenges. A spokesperson told NewsChannel 9 they’re looking to hire about 40 more drivers this winter.