While students were enjoying break, the Penn State Office of Physical Plant workers were clearing the university of snow and ice for the first week of classes.
Since there was more snowfall than expected over the break, OPP crews had to be brought in on Dec. 26 and 27, OPP Communications Coordinator Paul Ruskin said. The three crews that were called in — the landscape crew, custodial crew and road crew — each had an assigned area to work on, Ruskin said.
The landscape crew cleared sidewalks between buildings, the custodial work force did entryways to buildings and the Central Support Services worked on roads, Ruskin said. Because Penn State is in the mountains, Ruskin said, the crews have extensive experience in the past with clearing the snow.
“[The snow] is a little worse coming off campus but on campus was good,” Lauren Granese (junior - human development and family studies) said.
Though parking downtown is always an issue when there is snow, roofs of garages became a higher priority with the return of students, State College Parking Manager Charles DeBow said. The extra parking spaces on the roofs are used by students and are not needed when students are gone, DeBow said.
In preparing to clean the snow, Ruskin said OPP works very closely with the Penn State Meteorology Department.
The Meteorology Department informs OPP about what to expect in regard to the temperature, ratio of snow to ice, and the time the storm will begin, Ruskin said.
OPP also coordinates with the Penn State administration and Penn State Police when making plans, Ruskin said.
Because clearing the snow in State College is such a large operation with many roads and sidewalks to shovel, OPP begins planning in July every year, Ruskin said. It stockpiles about 100 tons each of salt and gravel, which lasts most of the winter, Ruskin said.
Typically, clearing the snow during one winter costs $700,000, but lately the amount has risen to over $1,000,000, said Ruskin.
“The cost of clearing the campus is substantial, but we can respond quickly, and normally within 24 hours everything is safe and as normal,” Ruskin said.
Over the course of the first week of classes, Ruskin said he heard no complaints from students about snow not being cleared, which he has heard in the past.
“Every time it snows in my town you notice that they do a bad job plowing, but I didn’t notice the snow when walking to class this week,” Torin Miner (freshman – architecture) said.