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With staffing shortages, ODOT crews ask for help – and patience – from holiday drivers

Winter conditions at higher elevations make for driver challenges
ODOT
Winter conditions at higher elevations make for driver challenges

SALEM, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Here's a holiday-week message from the Oregon Department of Transportation for safe travel over Thanksgiving:

Many holiday travelers will flock to the roads this week for Thanksgiving, and wet, snowy weather could gobble up your plans if you aren't prepared. Our crews are working through the feasting to keep your travels safe, but we could use your help. 

If there’s snow or a crash, our continuing staffing shortages mean we will need more time to clear roads. We’re working to fill current vacant positions, but drivers should expect less snow plowing. Similar lower levels of service will continue in the years to come without changes to our long-term funding, as we anticipate having fewer staff available. 

Please be courteous and patient with our crews, whether they are plowing or flagging traffic. We're seeing more close calls between crew members and vehicles. We want everyone to get where they need to go safely, and that means our folks, too. 

Tips for safe winter travel during the holiday season:

  • The Thanksgiving holiday is one of the busiest travel times of the year, regardless of conditions. Expect delays, plan ahead, and allow extra travel time.
  • Be careful when traveling over mountain passes. Check TripCheck.com for road conditions. Many camera displays include temperature and other helpful information.
  • Pay attention to roadside message signs. They contain critical information about conditions on the road ahead, like chain requirements. 
  • Make sure you’re ready for wintry road conditions. Carry chains and know how to use them. In case of major delays, pack supplies for you and your passengers such as food, water, blankets, warm clothes and medications.
  • Drive for conditions. Rain, snow, or extra traffic - slow down and give space for more stopping time, especially if the road is slick.
  • Give snowplows extra space and never pass on the right. Be patient. The safest place to be when it's snowing is behind a plow.
  • Make sure there’s a sober, focused and alert driver behind the wheel to help you get to and from your destinations. We all know that turkey makes us sleepy.
  • Be on the lookout for pedestrians and cyclists who are often less visible in wintery weather. 
  • For more information, visit our winter driving tips website.

Most of our construction work will be paused over the holiday weekend to allow for extra traffic. Travelers in Corvallis on Saturday should expect traffic delays from the University of Oregon - Oregon State football game. Kickoff is at 12:30 p.m. 

Keep in mind there are often other, more relaxing ways to get around, like the Amtrak train in the Willamette Valley or your local public transit service. Some may be closed on Thanksgiving Day. Check out your many options for car-free travel on ODOT’s website.

No matter how or where you travel in Oregon, be prepared for changing conditions. Don’t forget to look out for each other, our crews, and emergency responders on the road. Everyone deserves a safe holiday weekend.  

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