March 30, 2023
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If it’s been a long time since you’ve “rock and rolled” in a snowplow, never fear: “Sled Zepplin” will soon be here … clearing snow and ice state roads in Massachusetts.

[Above photo by MassDOT]

“Sled Zepplin” is one of the 12 winning monikers submitted statewide by public elementary and middle school classrooms as part of the “Name a Snowplow” contest held by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.

Image by MassDOT

A selection panel composed of MassDOT employees chose two elementary school classroom winners that are located within each of the six Highway Division districts.

The winning submissions were evaluated based on two grade-level categories: kindergarten through fourth grade; and fifth grade through eighth grade.

Gina Fiandaca being sworn in as MassDOT secretary & CEO. Photo by MassDOT.

“We are excited about the results of our first-ever contest to partner with school students across Massachusetts to name several of our snowplows,” said newly-installed MassDOT Secretary and CEO Gina Fiandaca in a statement.

“In addition to recognizing the schools that submitted winning names, this contest also strengthens the connection MassDOT has with communities across the Commonwealth,” she added.

[Editor’s note: The Wyoming Department of Transportation recently released a video – seen below – describing how its snow and ice control operations differ from those employed by other transportation agencies.]

MassDOT said the 12 winning classrooms will each receive a $100 gift card for school supplies and a visit from one of the agency’s snowplows with the winning name on it.

Many state departments of transportation across the country host “Name a Snowplow” contests as a way to both appreciate employees and contractors engaged in this often dangerous line work as well as to highlight the ongoing nationwide shortage of snowplow operators.

A survey conducted by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials in early 2022 found that 84 percent of respondents experienced “higher than normal” vacancies of snowplow operators.

A follow up survey of 24 states conducted by AASHTO in November 2022 found 19 state DOTs are still experiencing snowplow driver shortages, with only five states saying they are not.

editor@aashto.org

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