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Plows clear Highway 40

MoDOT plows clear westbound Highway 40 (Interstate 64) east of Hampton Avenue as seen from the Tamm Avenue overpass on Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014. Photo by Robert Cohen, rcohen@post-dispatch.com

On a day when temperatures hovered in the 80s, the Missouri Department of Transportation made a pitch to hire full-time and seasonal workers for this winter.

“It takes a long time to get ready,” said Mark Croarkin, maintenance engineer for the St. Louis district.

MoDOT placed its order for 30,000 tons of salt, to be delivered by barge and train, two months ago and is making sure trucks and plows are in good working condition, he said.

But the agency needs people to operate that equipment. It’s looking to hire 25 full-time employees and 55 seasonal workers to boost its workforce to the 450 people needed to keep roads clear.

A commercial drivers license is a plus, Croarkin said, but not necessary to apply. MoDOT will train employees to get licensed.

Pay for full-time employees starts at roughly $14 an hour, and includes health insurance and retirement benefits. Pay for seasonal workers starts at $12.44 an hour — they are expected to work 1,000 hours over six months, which breaks down to about 40 hours a week, and there could be overtime and nighttime work.

MoDOT has budgeted for the extra employees, Croarkin said.

The cash-strapped agency had feared it would soon lose $167 million in federal money, but an unexpected windfall courtesy of better-than-expected state revenue means that likely won’t happen.

MoDOT’s most-recent financial forecast had predicted that without any revenue growth, the state would not be able to match available federal transportation funds by fiscal year 2017, which begins July 1, 2016. Missouri can match $1 of state funds with $4 of federal funds.

MoDOT has braced for lean years ahead, reducing its workforce by 20 percent, disposing of more than 750 pieces of equipment and selling 124 facilities since 2011 for savings of more than $605 million.

Applications are being accepted through the end of the month at modot.org/jobs.