Commuting safely is of the utmost importance when a winter storm rolls in. Transit systems and road conditions can be significantly impacted by the weather, making your commuter more challenging than usual. However, knowing what to expect and how to plan ahead before you hit the road can definitely ease the stress and increase safety. Check out these helpful resources that can help you navigate your commute during a snow day.
Utah has the greatest snow on earth for skiing and snowboarding, but not for driving. During snowstorms, motorists traveling to and from campus should prepare for delays—especially during peak hours. There are several reasons why traffic congestion and gridlocks occur during snowstorms. Drivers are traveling at slow and cautious speeds, and vehicles that slide off the road can cause blockages and possible collisions. These scenarios, along with many others, ultimately make it difficult for snowplows to quickly and efficiently clean the roads.
So, who’s responsible for plowing the snow? The answer is not so simple. The facilities department plows university-owned roads. However, other roads owned by either UDOT or Salt Lake City are plowed by separate agencies that are not affiliated with the university.
Helpful resource: UDOT’s website offers a couple of tools that can help you plan your commute. One tool is a live map, which displays several helpful features like the snowplow tracker, incident alerts and lane closure updates. This website also offers a camera feed with images of UDOT-owned roads. These live images can help motorists see what the current road conditions are like before beginning their commute. Both tools are updated every few minutes.
UTA vehicles are designed to brave snowstorms as much as possible. For example, TRAX cars are equipped to scrape ice off the overhead power cables as they travel. However, if the weather creates unsafe conditions or shuts down power, passengers can expect a delay.
Helpful resource: Download the Transit app and follow UTA on Twitter to get the latest information on service delays caused by weather conditions. You can also sign up to receive text or email service alerts about the routes you use.
Riding Campus Shuttles
The campus shuttles will continue to operate regularly unless the weather creates unsafe conditions. If a snowstorm creates hazardous road conditions for drivers, passengers and other motorists, the campus shuttle system will temporarily suspend service until the weather improves.
Helpful resource: Visit uofubus.com to track all shuttles live and to see which routes are not operating. Passengers can also follow Commuter Services’ Twitter account to get the latest updates on temporary suspension routes.
You don’t need to hang up your bike when it snows. Many members of the university community continue to bike to campus throughout the winter months. “During a snowstorm, riders should prepare for slippery sidewalks and bike paths, which the University Facilities department will plow as soon as possible.
Helpful resource: Properly maintaining your bicycle regularly is especially important if you’re riding in the winter. Visit the new Campus Bike Shop is ensure your bicycle is in tip-top shape and ready to roll in the snow. Our full-service repair shop is located at 413 Campus Center Drive, across the street from the Utah Museum of Fine Arts. Call 801-581-6415 to make an appointment with our experienced bicycle mechanic.
Getting to your final destination safely is the number one priority. The resources mentioned can help commuters prepare for the inevitable snowstorms. However, the weather can be unpredictable and can still be challenging at times. Always give yourself extra travel time and be patient with transit systems, bicyclists and others on the road.
If you’re in an emergency, contact the University Police Department at 801-585-2677.