Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

DU braces for another winter storm

With much of campus still blanketed with snow from two late December snowstorms and another 3–8 inches predicted to fall through Monday, DU is working double-time to remove snow and ice left by the earlier storms.

DU has obtained permission to plow some city streets around campus, and 28 employees have been working virtually around the clock to clear University roads and sidewalks, says Facilities Director Jeff Bemelen. Equipment breakdowns — blown transmissions, busted hydraulic lines and broken welds — have slowed the work.

Bemelen says first priorities are handicapped access and fire lanes, then the center of campus, followed by outlying areas. So far this year, DU has used 900 gallons of liquid magnesium chloride, a de-icer, and 375 bags of granular magnesium chloride to melt snow. Last year, facilities used 2,150 gallons of the liquid and 590 bags of granular mag chloride for the entire year.

Allan Wilson, Ritchie Center director of building services, says the amount of snowfall dictates what can be done, but says he and his crew try to keep the Ritchie Center open no matter what. Wilson’s crew is responsible for the campus north of Asbury Avenue; Campus Operations Director Dave Snyder’s crew takes care of the south side. Along with grounds crews from facilities, DU carpenters, plumbers and electricians pitch in when extra help is needed.

SafeRide usage increases significantly when inclement weather hits, according to Parking Services Manager Buddy Knox, who encourages students, faculty and staff to take advantage of the free shuttle. 

Ellen Shew Holland, risk management director, advises everyone walking on campus to take extra precautions, wear appropriate footwear and allow time for smaller, more sure-footed steps to avoid slips and falls. Slick spots can be reported to facilities at x12200 or risk management at x12354. Call Susan Lee at x17436 for disability access issues.

Even with the best snow removal efforts, sometimes the best option is to close the University, Bemelen says. Still, “Closure is not something we take lightly,” he adds, noting that it costs the University more to close than to stay open because snow removal crews must continue to work at overtime rates. 

Provost Gregg Kvistad consults with Bemelen to decide when it’s necessary to close the University; critical staff are notified by telephone. Jim Berscheidt, assistant vice chancellor of news and public affairs, alerts the local media and ensures that a notice is posted on

Comments are closed.