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Severe weather plan outlines priorities for snow, ice removal

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Category: Policies

December 01, 2010

Last winter featured several snowfalls, including one that dropped as much as 10 inches of snow in the Triangle area. If the region is hit this winter, Duke will be ready and wants the community to stay safe and understand what to expect.

Duke has revised its snow and ice removal plan that focuses on clearing Duke roads and designated priority parking lots, bus stops and pedestrian paths to building entrances. As part of the plan, the university and health system have been organized into precincts, allowing for shared responsibilities in providing efficient snow and ice removal by clearing priority areas first.

"Our plan is to divide and conquer because it's not possible to clear the entire campus in a short period of time," said John Noonan, associate vice president for Facilities Management, which, along with Parking and Transportation, Engineering and Operations and Residence Life and Housing Services, developed the revised plan.

There are more than 46 miles of sidewalks at Duke and hitting all to remove snow or ice in short order is not possible, officials said.

Crews will focus on main campus (West, Central and East) and Duke-owned off campus properties. Priorities for clearing include Duke-owned roadways, priority parking lots, garage entrances, bus stops and priority sidewalks to two primary building entrances. A map of priority areas to be cleared is at

With 1.6 million square feet of Duke-owned roads and 4.1 million square feet of parking, students and employees should expect priority areas to be done first during harsh weather. The start time for clearing a wintry mix is dependent on weather patterns and individual storms and the amount of accumulation.

For a moveable snowfall of about three inches, it will take crews four to six hours after precipitation ends to clear priority sidewalks and roadways. For bigger storms, clearing priority areas could take eight or more hours. Since no storms are alike, it's impossible to have a uniform amount of time to clear all priority areas of campus, Noonan said.

Community members are encouraged to allow more travel time, wear appropriate footwear for walking on snow or ice and to keep in mind that even if a walkway is cleared, the surface may still be wet and slippery.

"During the winter, when we regularly deal with freezing temperatures, it's very important that people not expect completely dry pavement," Noonan said. "Even if crews are able to clear snow or ice down to the pavement, melting and refreezing will most likely occur."

Robert Guerry, director for Engineering and Operations, said common sense is the best tool for employees to use during inclement weather. Guerry noted that Health System employees are able to park in PGI or PGII and stay under cover through the Duke Clinics and Hospital by walking through buildings and walkways.

"We should all take paths that are cleared and stay away from short cuts," he said. "We work very hard to clear walkways as fast as we can, and getting to work can be safer during bad weather if you're using the suggested paths."

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