By Matt Kroschel

SUMMIT COUNTY- As waves of heavy snow and ice bury the high country, the Colorado Department of Transportation is trying to handle the massive job it takes to keep roads clear with less employees. Posted at the entrance to the Johnson and Eisenhower Johnson Memorial Tunnels along Interstate 70 are massive “CDOT is Hiring” signs. But it’s a statewide problem.

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(credit: CBS)

It represents a challenge for CDOT’s mountain corridor manager Patrick Chavez.

“We seen lower number of applicants applying to work at CDOT as maintenance employees and plow drivers,” Chavez said.

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CBS4’s Matt Kroschel interviews Patrick Chavez. (credit: CBS)

Statewide CDOT is down about 100 snowplow drivers and with this early winter hitting the high country hard, it’s a scramble to keep up.

“This impacts us because we can’t maximize the number of plows that are on there. So it limits our ability to get the roads adequately plowed and back to good condition as quickly as possible.”

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(credit: CBS)

Nowhere is shortage being felt more than along I-70 corridor the high country.

“In a lot of cases we are getting plow drivers coming from other sections of other regions to come out and help us out up on the corridor,” Chavez said.

CDOT says they are increasing the pay rate from $19/hour to $22/hour. Retired snowplow drivers can come back and earn $25/hour, or their rate when they retired if it was higher.

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(credit: CBS)

“Nationwide, there’s a shortage of drivers that have a commercial driver’s license (CDL), and it’s impacting how many people we have out maintaining our roadways,” said CDOT Human Resources Director Susan Rafferty.

The agency is also offering a housing stipend for some locations. In addition, employees may be hired from out-of-state thanks to a six-month residency waiver.

LINK: CDOT Is Hiring

Matt Kroschel covers news throughout Colorado working from the CBS4 Mountain Newsroom. Send story ideas to mrkroschel@cbs.com and connect with him on Twitter @Matt_Kroschel.

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