F&S aims for rapid snow removal

A+snowman+on+the+Main+Quad+stands+in+front+of+the+Noyes+Laboratory+of+Chemistry+on+Jan.+13.%0A
Back to Article
Back to Article

F&S aims for rapid snow removal

A snowman on the Main Quad stands in front of the Noyes Laboratory of Chemistry on Jan. 13.

A snowman on the Main Quad stands in front of the Noyes Laboratory of Chemistry on Jan. 13.

Kenyon Edmond

A snowman on the Main Quad stands in front of the Noyes Laboratory of Chemistry on Jan. 13.

Kenyon Edmond

Kenyon Edmond

A snowman on the Main Quad stands in front of the Noyes Laboratory of Chemistry on Jan. 13.

By Benedicte Mulumba Yenyi, Staff Writer

Snow removal is considered priority work; however, despite all the salting and snow removal, there are still areas around campus that remain uncleared.

According to the Facilities & Services website, pavements, sidewalks, bicycle lanes, Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility ramps and building entrances must be cleared at all times, especially after a snowstorm.

Mohamed Attalla, executive director of Facilities & Services, says based on the forecast, the office’s activities start in advance of the snowfall by prepping equipment and ensuring they are in good working conditions. It plans its team’s schedules and shifts together with planned availability.

F&S is responsible for providing snow removal for 23 miles of roadway, 147 parking lots with more than 16,000 spaces, 90 miles of sidewalk, 10 miles of bicycle paths and lanes and more than 200 buildings on 1,400 acres.

“It should be noted that we are an urban campus with distributed responsibilities,” Attalla said. “For example, many of the areas around campus are within the jurisdiction of the cities of Urbana and Champaign in addition to MTD. However, we coordinate very well with all of our counterparts.”

Although the University does not contact the atmospheric sciences department regarding weather conditions to decide about a snow day, Jeffrey Frame, teaching assistant professor of atmospheric sciences, said the University uses a specific set of criteria.

“Since I was here in 2010, we only had two snow days,” Frame said. “One was in 2011 when we had 6-to-7 inches of sleet. The other time was Monday after spring break of 2013.”

The University has not had a full snow day this winter; however, there has been a delayed start when the sidewalk conditions presented a danger for those walking to class in the early morning.

Madeleine Sheppard, freshman in DGS, said the University closing in the morning but opening later in the afternoon doesn’t really affect her since most of her classes are after 10 a.m. and the roads are usually cleared by then.

“Advantages of snow days are like when (you’re) choosing to go to the library to study, you have more time,” Sheppard said. “A disadvantage is like you not going to class. I never missed a class, and (I) stress so much when (or) if I do.”

Sonia Lasher-Trapp, professor of atmospheric sciences, said even though the temperature looks rough, it is nothing new in the Midwest.

“I don’t have last (year’s) statistics in front of me, but I do know that at the beginning of winter season, this year was forecasted to be rather average,” Lasher-Trapp said. “We had a cool November and some snow. But December was warm again, and now we have a typical January weather.”

Attalla said classes are usually canceled at a higher, strategic level. Usually, road conditions are taken into consideration to ensure commuting to campus is not endangering people’s lives. F&S will always address conditions to the best of its ability, he said.

“For sidewalks, Facilities & Services (has) developed response plans to different emergency and non-emergency events,” Attalla said. “Similar to all known events, we plan our response based upon the forecast. We ensure that equipment is available and in a good working condition.”

[email protected]