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UW-Madison braces for winter with snow removal plans, parking changes

November 18, 2008 By Dennis Chaptman

On the heels of the snowiest winter in Madison’s history, campus officials are making a variety of snow removal improvements designed to tame inclement weather and keep sidewalks, bus shelters and parking lots clear and safe.

Crews have been instructed to clear designated entrances for the disabled first, new snow-clearing equipment has been purchased, new parking regulations are ready to be implemented, personnel resources will be targeted at snow removal and a campuswide Snow Action Day designation has been developed to help the university better deal with Wisconsin’s rough winters.

“After last winter, we reached out to the university and sought ideas for how to keep the campus clear and slip-free and studied how other large, snow-belt campuses deal with snow removal,” says Alan Fish, associate vice chancellor for facilities. “We believe these changes will help reduce inconvenience and make navigating the campus easier during snowy weather.”

Campus officials will call a Snow Action Day when significant snowy weather is expected, to alert the campus community and better enable crews to remove snow. It is an advisory and a call to action and does not mean that classes have been canceled or the university has been closed. Those announcements will be made separately.

A Snow Action Day designation will be announced on the university’s home page and will include the following:

  • People will be encouraged to leave their cars at home and ride the bus to campus.
  • Moped and bicycle travel will be discouraged.
  • New winter parking rules in specific parking lots and some university streets will take effect.
  • The top level of parking ramps will be closed to allow snow clearance.
  • Signs will be placed at the bus stop atop Bascom Hill and at the Memorial Union if buses cannot make the steep trip up Observatory Drive during storms, to better inform riders.
  • Motorists will be urged to park in cleared areas of parking lots or in ramps, where possible.

So that crews can focus their attention on clearing high-priority areas, some walking routes will be cleared last in the wake of Snow Action Days, including the south walk along Lot 46, the Bill’s Woods Walk in Eagle Heights, the west sidewalk on Lake Mendota Drive, and the Hoofers lakefront area at the Memorial Union. Clearing of bicycle and scooter parking areas will also be a low priority, officials say.

A Snow Action Day affects only the campus during major snowstorms. The city of Madison issues and enforces separate snow emergency advisories that affect areas near the campus.

To help facilitate snow clearance, several new winter parking rules will be in effect on campus from Nov. 15 until March 15. They include:

  • No parking on Observatory Drive or Linden Drive at any time between 2-6 a.m.
  • Parking will be contained within designated rows for overnight, non-permit parkers between 2-6 a.m. in Lot 16, near the UW Police Department, and Lot 51, near the UW Fleet Garage.
  • Designated parking for certain departmental employees will be designated in selected lots to concentrate vehicle parking and speed snow clearance in those lots. The lots include Lot 32, near Frank’s Place; Lot 34, behind Liz Waters Hall; and Lot 40, behind Babcock Hall.

Bucky with a shovel image street signs


All of these areas will be marked with signs that include an easily identifiable “Shoveling Bucky” caricature.

“By taking these steps, we hope to improve our response to snowy weather and keep everyone safe,” says Fish. “We have more than 50 miles of sidewalks, 12 miles of roads and 90 parking lots to deal with. Cooperation will go a long way toward getting the job done.”

Efforts have also been made to help make the campus easier to navigate for disabled individuals. In addition to clearing entrances designated for the disabled first, disabled parking stalls have been moved from roof level, in some cases, to lower levels in parking ramps; and the McBurney Disability Resource Center has developed and distributed a student guide to accessibility and wintry weather.

The university is taking other steps to keep winter at bay. Several new snow-clearing machines — which can be converted to year-round use for grounds maintenance — have been purchased; hourly student help is being sought to help shovel after major snowstorms; and dozens more shovels, painted green, will be purchased and placed in building entrances for building managers and other employees to use and at bus stops in the campus area in hopes of keeping those areas clear.

Officials hope people will take advantage of the green shovels to help clear the bus stops and make them more pedestrian-friendly.

The campus is also experimenting for the first time with some new ways to deal with snow and ice.

Crews will spray a solution on the south walk of Bascom Hill and on the footbridge over Park Street before a snow, which is designed to melt falling snow and prevent ice formation. Officials are also evaluating a new flint and epoxy treatment that has been applied to entrances to Lot 6 at Helen C. White Hall to improve traction.

As a final, time-tested measure, university officials are taking a page out of your mom’s playbook, reminding everyone to wear boots and dress appropriately for Wisconsin’s snowy winter weather.