U digs out from under winter’s wrath

Eric Swanson

Getting to school was not easy Monday.

Snow blanketed much of the state and came down all day, leaving many roadways and sidewalks congested.

For commuter Steve Goldberg, the drive east on Interstate Highway 94 was terrible.

“It was a parking lot. Nobody was moving. It was insane,” said Goldberg, a University senior. “I should have learned my lesson by now and live closer to campus.”

His usual five-minute commute from St. Paul took him 30 minutes, but he tried to be optimistic.

“At least the snow is better than the cold,” Goldberg said.

The National Weather Service predicted 10-12 inches of snow by the storm’s end Monday night or this morning. That would bring the total snow accumulation to roughly 17 inches in the metropolitan area.

“We have been working overtime to keep the roads and sidewalks clear,” said Lester Potts, Facilities Management grounds supervisor.

The 17-member crew in charge of University snow removal was called in earlier than usual Monday to begin plowing, Potts said.

He also needed to call in many student crews to hand-shovel the snow.

Lori Ann Vicich, parking services coordinator, said the storm’s length could cost the University overtime pay as snow removers work late nights to clean empty parking lots.

“It is more costly when we have to plow twice,” she said.

Vicich also said University buses were running slow because of snow and slippery roads but that it wasn’t noticeable.

Parking and Transportation Services director Bob Baker said snow removal has gone smoothly and continued late into Monday to avoid any possible troubles today.

“We’re doing pretty well so far. There haven’t been any problems,” Baker said.

This storm’s snow accumulation led Minneapolis to declare a snow emergency at 9 p.m. Monday that will last three days. During that time, the city will ticket and tow improperly parked vehicles, city employee Sara Dietrich said.

All towed vehicles will be brought to the city’s impound lot at 51 N. Colfax Ave.

Dietrich also said the city is conducting a survey during the snow emergency to better assess why people are getting towed and ticketed.

Although most people are able to follow the emergency regulations, the city wants to limit the number of problems, Dietrich said.

“We are trying to get to the bottom of why this is happening,” Dietrich said.

Free parking is available in many University ramps during the first night of a snow emergency to help students and residents avoid being towed or ticketed.

The storm caused many students to question why the University was not closed, but canceling school for a snowstorm is unlikely, said University Executive Vice President and Provost Christine Maziar, who decides if it’s necessary to cancel classes.

“It is a very rare occasion that we would close the University,” Maziar said. “I do not know the last time the University was closed because of a snow emergency.”