SEPTA struggles with snow, professor’s safety concerns



Kate Carrubba

While the University grounds crew has been working diligently to remove snow from frequently traveled areas, there was a debate about whether the sidewalk on the bridge crossing the R5 tracks and leading from Main Campus to West Campus was the responsibility of the University or SEPTA. 

As a result, the sidewalk was not made accessible until early Monday morning.

LeRoy Alaways, a professor in the department of mechanical engineering who wrote a letter to The Villanovan, first noticed the problem after a storm in December.

That particular storm dropped only two inches of snow on ‘Nova, but it was enough to cause problems on the sidewalk. 

“There is a nice wall there protecting that section of walkway from the sun, so the snow/ice stays longer,” Alaways wrote in his letter. “Every student that walks over the bridge walks in slush, or when it finally freezes over, ice.”

After the storm on Feb. 6, poor shoveling and plowing of the road made the situation worse.

At that point, Alaways took matters into his own hands by contacting the University grounds crew, who informed him that the bridge is the responsibility of SEPTA. 

Robert Morro, associate vice president for Facilities Management, agreed that the responsibility for clearing the sidewalk lies with SEPTA. 

Morro believes that the sidewalk was originally cleared by SEPTA, but it was re-covered with snow when crews from Radnor Township plowed Spring Mill Road. 

Morro is quick to state that the blame does not lie with SEPTA. According to Morro, SEPTA cleared the train station, platforms, bridge and bridge stairs several times during the storm with a crew of over 20 people.

“One of the problems is that there is no place to throw the plowed snow,” Alaways wrote. “The snow is piled on top of the guardrail and flows onto the sidewalk.”  

Students and faculty alike noticed the problem. 

“It was horrible to walk on,” junior Kellie Kozel said. “The snow was pushed to the side, but the sidewalk was covered with a thick layer of ice, and people were sliding everywhere. Some people chose to walk in the snow bank to the side rather than walk on the sidewalk itself.” 

Faculty members like Alaways who park their cars in the Garey Hall garage were inconvenienced.  

There are a host of legal issues to contend with should the incorrect group plow the sidewalk, which factors into the University’s decision to leave the plowing to SEPTA.