February 2, 2010

All Hands on Deck - the University's Snow Removal Plan in Action

During Nashville’s snow event Friday and Saturday, which dropped more snow than the city has seen in seven years, teams from the University’s Grounds Department, Medical Center Plant Services, Central Parking and Environmental Services all kicked into high gear.

“Clearing snow and ice on our 330-acre campus requires considerable teamwork. The University’s Snow Removal Plan is a published and practiced plan,” said Mark Petty, assistant vice chancellor for Plant Operations. “The Grounds Department spread more than 5,000 pounds of snow melt and another 5,000 pounds of sand in and around the Medical Center, where pedestrian traffic can also involve hospital and clinic patients.”

Ken Browning, Medical Center director of Facilities and Construction, says priorities, like the Adult and Children's Emergency Departments, are set by the Snow Removal Plan, and specific areas, like the tops of Medical Center parking garages, are carved out for Central Parking.

“A lot of variables have to be considered and ice can change the entire approach,” Browning said. “Dry snow on our sidewalks is a piece of cake for mowing machines equipped with a power broom. However, packed, frozen snow such as we have encountered during this storm is another issue. Bobcat loaders are used on our parking decks but we have to be very careful about points where the removed snow is loaded. You can't simply pile the snow up in the corner or an overload can occur.”

A lot of manpower and resources are required to address the mess left behind after such a heavy snowfall. At the Medical Center alone, the Grounds Department, Plant Services, Central Parking and Environmental Services all worked together to log more than 500 hours to tackle the weather-related mess.

Crews began work on Friday around midday to address snowfall and worked until 10 p.m., then had to completely redo all of their work on Saturday due to additional snowfall occurring overnight. Abnormally low temperatures on both Sunday and Monday morning made it more difficult to remove ice and compacted snow.

“We are continuing to work on getting all areas cleaned up and we appreciate everyone's patience," Browning said. “An analysis of the performance of the Snow Removal Plan will be conducted before week’s end. Opportunities for improvement can always be found. We may need to conduct snow drills, since similar weather events only occur every few years here in Nashville. It’s a challenge to maintain coordination over such long periods between events.”