TXDOT Testing Four Day Work Week

By Camaron Abundes   
NewsWest 9

ODESSA- TXDOT unveiled a plan that will have maintenance crews saying it's finally Thursday.

Starting February 1st through August 31st, TXDOT maintenance crews in 12 West Texas counties will work four ten hour shifts and take Friday's off. It's a cost cutting measure workers are excited about. Spokesperson Glen Larum says 76 percent of workers polled like the district's plan.

After the test run, officials will review the results looking at safety, savings, and morale.

"If you have an office open four days instead of five presumably you will see some savings on utility costs." Larum said.

The work load won't get any lighter, but the weekends will get longer, but it will be a trade off.

"10 hours is going to be a long day for the employees." TXDOT Maintenance Supervisor Jesse Gutierrez, said.

The state's transportation department lost millions, over the summer due to high gas prices.

According to Larum, TXDOT receives a flat tax rate of 20 cents per gallon of gasoline purchased in Texas. When prices soared in the summer people drove less and TXDOT missed it's projected budget earnings by 1 percent. Larum says while earnings went down, other operating costs went up and this shorter work week is one tool they have to shore up the difference.

"We're hiring only essential job positions." Larum said, there is also a hiring cool down.

The four day work week isn't just about savings, safety is expected to increase.

"The most dangerous times of the day are when they setup their traffic control for their work during the day and when they pickup." Larum says the plan will cut accidents by 20 percent and it will boost morale.

Still some wonder if accidents will increase because crews will be working longer days and during peak driving hours.

"Obviously we're going to have to do a little better planning." said Gutierrez, who says the long days may take a toll on older workers.

TXDOT officials will review the results of the experimental schedule before it is adopted permanently.