Removing the right snow

During heavy snowfall, campus must prioritize snow removal


Holder Tractors are the main way facilities management remove snow from sidewalks, the footbridge, and the hill. When not in use, they are stowed away in the facilities management building. – Photo by Sam Martinez

Story by Sam Martinez, Staff Writer

A 12 percent grade hill, a large outdoor staircase and newly constructed sidewalks are some of the reasons why UW-Eau Claire’s unique campus can be a challenge to maintain in winter.

The facilities management department cannot be everywhere at once, so when the snow is falling, all campus areas are divided into either immediate or secondary priority areas for snow removal.

Lynn Peterson, assistant director for operations in the facilities management department, said that this list is all about campus safety.

The campus hill, the footbridge and primary campus sidewalks are a few of the campus areas that are listed as immediate priorities for campus snow removal. Secondary areas are locations such as residence hall parking lots and sidewalks that tend to receive less traffic.

“If it continues to snow, we don’t even get through our whole list of priorities before we have to start over,” said Peterson.

Peterson said that the university police and the parking and transportation department worked along with facilities management to form a list that best accommodated the needs of the university.

Freshman Hunter Clark said that he can tell that some areas around campus receive more attention than others.

“The hill and the bottom of the hill till Hibbard seem like the (most clear),” Clark said. “But upper campus right around the dorms, not so much.”

To ensure campus safety, immediate priority areas will be kept clear whether campus receives a dusting or a blanket of snow. Peterson said that even if it is less than half an inch of accumulation, if it is snowing they will have people out their brooming these areas.

Although a significant snowfall may require snow removers to start work as early as midnight, on most days they start work at 6 a.m., which gives them plenty of time to start clearing snow and salting before classes start.

“(The walkways) are always cleared really nicely and early,” said sophomore Camila Bedoya. “And they are good at salting the hill.”

Facilities management utilizes Holder tractors for snow removal on campus, which Peterson described as the “Cadillac of snow removal”. She said that they are perfectly suited for campus snow removal because they are small and powerful.

The Holder tractors are versatile machines that can dispense salt, sweep away light snowfall and plow away heavier accumulation.

Peterson said while operating these snow removal machines, facilities management workers occasionally run into inattentive students and faculty members who seen to be paying more attention to their phones than the powerful machines.

“It would be great if our campus community as a whole would be more cautious around the equipment as they are trying to remove snow,” said Peterson.

Peterson said that anybody who is concerned about an area of campus they find to be particularly slippery should contact the office of loss prevention and safety.