A Lot to Look At

Tionna De Freitas, Staff Writer

Ask most Utica College students and professors about driving and parking on campus and they will most likely have a horror story to tell. People would drive around, frantically trying to find a parking spot and once the winter hits and all the snow madness strikes, and it becomes an even bigger problem.

“Parking can be ridiculous on campus at times, but once the snow storms hit and the weather is ruthless, that’s when parking becomes an issue,” commuter Jaida DeGrisitna said. “There’s so much snow, so I’m sure it’s hard to upkeep especially with parked cars in the mix.”

Luckily, UC’s facilities do their best to guarantee safe walkways and parking lots for everyone on campus.

“During storms and all winter season (Dec. 1 to April 1), we have a 24-hour grounds crew rotation schedule as well, I am also in close contact with campus safety,” Grounds Supervisor Dustin Pritchard said. “Our first priority is always the main road and entrances to campus as well as stairs and handicap ramps, from there we work on all main sidewalks and parking lots.”

But as the weather grows warmer, evidence of the harsh winter is becoming more apparent on and around campus.

In a number of parking lots and roads within UC’s campus, potholes are a persistent problem for drivers. Dodging unfilled potholes present a significant obstacle to student mobility.

“With class in the morning, I always have to dodge them,” DeGristina said. “It’s kind of distracting with other cars coming toward you.”

Potholes develop over time during the freeze and thaw cycle, and with the brutal and sporadic nature of Utica winters. It has an impact on those cycles, contributing to the number of potholes in streets and in parking lots throughout the season. Once the thaw begins and the temperatures rise, potholes appear. Pritchard said damage to the roads during the winter is a tough battle.

“The asphalt plants are closed, so the only option is to use cold patch to fill the potholes on warmer winter days,” Pritchard said. “This isn’t a permanent fix, but it helps.”

In the meantime, drivers are hoping the college can take other steps to keep them safe. Coach Lindsay Varnum said that it would be helpful if some areas with significant damage were roped off.

“I understand they can’t do anything until the weather is nice, but maybe some caution cones or warnings around dangerous areas could be significant,” Varnum said.

With spring around the corner, the facilities’ grounds crew hopes to begin the correct measures soon.

“Once spring comes, we address the potholes with hot asphalt mix or total reconstruction of the road,” Pritchard said. “It really depends on when the asphalt plants open up and when the weather is above freezing and relatively dry.”