WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) - Preparations for severe winter weather are underway at the city of Wichita and Kansas Department of Transportation, or KDOT.

Snow plows and salt and sand mix are available in anticipation of snow and ice. However, this winter, it may take longer to clear certain roads than usual. 

“We will get the roads cleared this winter, but it may take longer than what we'd like,” Tom Hein with KDOT said. 

KDOT is short staffed, operating 25% low on maintenance workers. Hein said this means it will take longer to treat and clear state highways and roads.

“One of our crews is supposed to have 13 workers on it, and they have seven,” he said. 

Drive on to the streets in Wichita’s jurisdiction, it will be a different story though. The city has 156 drivers for its plows, and while not fully staffed, leaders said this is above minimum staffing. 

“We can always pretty much extend the bench, cause we want to make sure that we have…folks are ready to work and get out there to keep our streets safe on call,” Mayor Brandon Whipple said. 

Wichita Public Works has 60 plows and eight brine trucks to pretreat the roads. It has 6,000 tons of salt and sand mix ready and available, and the material for another 35,000 tons on standby. 

“Street preparation and snow removal is part of our public safety plan,” Whipple said. “So, in addition to police and fire, if there was a situation where we needed more resources, the City Council would be more than happy to find those resources.”

Both the city and state require plow operators to have their Commercial Driver’s License, or CDL. Both entities also provide training to hired employees who don’t have one. 

“It consists of basically a classroom component, and they take a written test that allows them to get a permit that allows them to then take the behind the wheel training and actually operate a commercial vehicle,” Aaron Henning with Wichita Public Works said. 

Hein said KDOT also has plenty of trucks, salt and sand mix, brine and beet juice ready to go. He said come this winter’s first storm; people need to prepare to be patient. 

“We'd like to have full staff, and we could really get after it 24/7, which we will,” Hein said. “But there may be times, especially at night, where we don't have a driver in some of the trucks that are available, and that's kind of frustrating.”

You can find open positions with the Kansas Department of Transportation by clicking here. Click here for open positions with the City of Wichita.