Students face trouble in Hawk Lot because of winter weather

Students who keep their cars at the Hawkeye Storage Lot typically live in residence halls and only visit a few times a month. Because of that, plows have a hard time keeping up with snow removal.

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Students face trouble in Hawk Lot because of winter weather

Snow comes down in the Hawk Lot on Monday, February 11, 2019.

Snow comes down in the Hawk Lot on Monday, February 11, 2019.

Shivansh Ahuja

Snow comes down in the Hawk Lot on Monday, February 11, 2019.

Shivansh Ahuja

Shivansh Ahuja

Snow comes down in the Hawk Lot on Monday, February 11, 2019.

Kinsey Phipps, News Reporter

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As winter weather continues to hit Iowa City, students with vehicles parked in the Hawk Lot may face challenges in accessing their cars.

After snowfall, plows clear streets and parking lots, but they push snow behind cars in the process, making it difficult to maneuver in the lot. Some students have found themselves stuck, unable to leave.

RELATED: New UI parking policy elicits negative response

There are more than 1,000 permit holders using the Hawkeye Storage Lot, said April Wells, the communications and marketing manager for University of Iowa Parking & Transportation. Students pay $189 per semester to keep cars in the lot, or $42 a month, she said.

Parking & Transportation oversees most parking lots, roads, and pedestrian areas on campus. When winter rolls around, Parking & Transportation is busy with snow clearance and upkeep of university property, Wells said, and there is a priority list for what must be maintained.

The main priorities are pedestrian areas so those walking on campus may do so safely, Wells said. Next is parking for hospital staff to make sure they are able to get to work safely to care for patients.

Near the end of the priority list is the Hawkeye Storage Lot. This is because most students who use the lot live in residence halls and only visit their cars a few times each month, Wells said.

Shivansh Ahuja
Snow comes down in the Hawk Lot on Feb. 11.

After winter snowfall, plows clear the roads in the lot. Often, this leaves large piles of snow behind vehicles, first-year student Reagan Roemhildt-Herda said.

RELATED: UI students and staff discuss preparation for winter

Roemhildt-Herda, who keeps her car in the Hawkeye Storage Lot, needs to leave campus one Saturday each month because of military service, she said. The last time she had to leave, she found a large pile of snow behind her car and was unable to get out.

“There was so much snow right behind my car nearly past where my trunk opens up. The longer it sits there, the colder it gets, the harder it is to shovel out,” Roemhildt-Herda said.

As staff allows, Parking & Transportation sends personnel out with a skid loader or shovels to clear the snow from behind vehicles, Wells said.

“We have a fixed amount of resources, hours, and people,” Wells said. “We have to be diligent and careful with how we use those. Our staff works a lot of overtime, late nights, and early mornings to make sure resources are accessed. Snow removal is a combined effort; there are a variety of people who work together to make it happen.”

UI first-year student Jared Cook said he understands how difficult it must be to clear the Hawk Lot with students going in and out sparingly, he said, but he has a problem with how much money he pays to keep his car there.

Shivansh Ahuja
Snow comes down in the Hawk Lot on Feb. 11.

“If they cannot provide the resources, then what is our money going toward?” Cook said. “If students are paying this much to park there, they need to do a better job.”

Parking & Transportation supports the Department of Transportation winter-weather suggestions such as keeping blankets, shovels, and ice scrapers in cars, Wells said.

In addition, Parking & Transportation offers the Motorist Assistance Program for UI affiliates on campus if they cannot find or start cars, Wells said.

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