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Traffic Aides May Have The Coldest Job In Chicago

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A Chicago traffic management aide. (CBS)

A Chicago traffic management aide. (CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — If you went outside Thursday, there’s a good chance you’re still trying to warm up. But imagine what it’s like to stand outside for hours at a time, just trying to keep others safe.

That’s the job of hundreds of traffic control aides in Chicago.  CBS 2’s Pamela Jones spent time with some of them.

Jimmy Brown directs traffic just off the Magnificent Mile. He battles heavy traffic, emergencies, and bone-chilling temperatures for 5 ½ hours of his shift every day.

“It takes a lot of layers,” says Michelle DiCola, a supervisor with the city’s Traffic Management Authority.

She’s ready to help traffic control aides at any time. That means she has to wear just as many layers as the traffic aides on the street.

“My outer coat and then a thermal underneath this, and then my work sweater,” DiCola said, cataloging the layers.

In all, she said, it’s about five or six thin layers keeping the cold out.

She sports chill-blocking gloves, warming packs to go inside them and thick military-style boots, too.

“They go to 32 below zero, and a lot of our traffic control aides wear these along with wool socks,” DiCola said.

It’s all to make sure they can stop dangers at the city’s intersections for the people who drive and walk through them.

DiCola says the traffic aides do have time for breaks where they find somewhere to warm up.

She added that although the agency does not limit those breaks, many traffic aides choose to take just one warm-up break per day.

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