30 miles of sidewalks, 50 parking lots, 35 miles of roads

To most WSU faculty, staff and students, snow means added excitement and extra time getting places. To some Facilities Operation staff, it means 10-hour work days beginning at 5 a.m.

FacOps’ grounds, heavy equipment and custodial departments work day and night to minimize transportation headaches and keep campus areas safe.

Sidewalks and stairs
With a total of 19 employees, the grounds department is responsible for removing snow on about 30 miles of sidewalks, nine acres of plazas and high priority stairs on the Pullman campus. In early December, heavy snowfall caused grounds employees to log more than 178.5 hours beyond their regular work hours this season.

Pedestrian traffic can inhibit grounds employees from plowing certain areas during the day. Additionally, foot traffic compacts snow, making it harder to remove. Prior to Dec. 8, grounds employees had used four tons of de-ice pellets and 1,600 gallons of de-ice liquid to combat ice hazards.

Streets and parking lots
The heavy equipment department, which employs nine full-time and two temporary employees, is responsible for snow removal on streets, in parking lots and loading dock areas, and on roads on the edge of campus. The department services 37 miles of roadways and 50 acres of parking lots. During severe snow weather, heavy equipment employees work from 5 a.m. to midnight Monday through Saturday. Between Thanksgiving and Dec. 8, they had worked 95 hours in 12 days beyond their normal hours.

When snow falls, the department must prioritize snow removal, focusing first on bus routes, main travel roads, handicap parking, loading docks, facility access areas to buildings, and main pedestrian crosswalks.

When it comes to removing snow in interior campus parking areas, the heavy equipment department tends to work nights. Plowing can only occur when parking lots are empty — generally from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. and during holidays — so heavy equipment employees often sacrifice their nights to ensure drivers’ safe arrival in the morning.

Around buildings
The custodial department focuses on snow removal around buildings. Employees use shovels, ice chippers, d-ice, and six small snow blowers to remove snow and ice outside the buildings; they also remove snow tracked inside buildings by pedestrians.

Your help needed
Facilities Operations requests the WSU community to help snow removal staff increase campus safety by doing three things:
* slowing down and giving plows room to work when they see orange lights flashing
* refraining from parking cars in parking lots for long periods of time
* being patient

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