Facilities, Planning and Management staff clears the way for Iowa State

A 50-man team joins up with the city of Ames and Ames Parks and Recreation in order to remove snow from sidewalks and roads. The groups used a variety of methods to clear snow from the sidewalks, including salt brines and sanders.

Ryan Leon

With winter weather already here and more in the forecast, students need to know that the sidewalks and parking lots they use everyday to get to class will be clean.

The Facilities, Planning and Management staff on campus is responsible for chipping ice off the sidewalks and clearing snow out of the parking lots throughout the season. However, these duties take a large cut of their budget each year.

As of last year, the staff spent over $400,000 on snow removal efforts that includes clearing more than 34 miles of sidewalks and 162 acres of parking, said David Miller, associate vice president for Facilities, Planning and Management.

Of the $400,000, $326,000 came directly from Facilities, Planning and Management. They then paid nearly an additional $100,000 in billed costs. This totaled up to over one-fourth of their yearly budget for all activities.

This money is used to fund a 50-man team that clears the snow and operates snow removal equipment. The equipment includes trucks, sanders, brooms and shovels. The money spent on the team is primarily used for the cost of labor, which includes overtime pay for late night shoveling.

The 50-man team is organized by Lester Lawson, the facilities maintenance manager. He oversees the process of clearing the sidewalks and parking lots. The team operates on various routes, which allows them to clear the most amount of snow in a timely manner.

“This is a very experienced group of workers that move very quickly and efficiently over high traffic areas around campus,” Lawson said.

However, this group doesn’t work alone. The team also works with the city of Ames and Ames Parks and Recreation to remove snow around the city.

“It works a lot like a small neighborhood clearing snow,” Miller said, “You work through your route and if you get to another, you don’t pick up your blade. You keep moving to keep the process moving.”

This means if a worker clears their route and is on their way back, they will continue to plow snow on the way even if it is not their route. This has led to a great relationship between the workers of the groups.

“Our group is very resourceful,” Miller said, “I’ve seen our crew adapt all sorts of equipment to meet snow removal needs. That is why we started only using equipment that can go all four seasons.”

The groups use a variety of methods to clear the snow from the sidewalks. They use the basic shoveling that everyone sees, as well as salt brines, sanders and many other pieces of equipment. The workers have been known to use anything at their disposal to clear the snow and ice.

“It is a season-long process,” Miller said. “We are always planning ahead, looking at forecasts and making sure we are prepared whenever there is a chance of snow. Our crew shows remarkable commitment, and they always find a way to get the job done.”