ROCHESTER, Minn. (FOX 47) – A snowy Minnesota day in April, leads to a messy commute. While many were trudging through some slushy slop, not everybody had to.
We dug into Mayo Clinic history, where we learned more about an often overlooked Mayo amenity: heated sidewalks.
“It’s nice when I step off the bus and I’m not stepping through 6 inches of snow,” Mayo Employee Tyler McConaughey said.
The Mayo Clinic has been keeping its sidewalks clear of snow for years without having to do much shoveling or snow-blowing.
“You can see as people are walking downtown, its heated all the way down to the next block,” Mayo Clinic Facilities Tom Behrens said.
The Clinic has been heating the sidewalks on campus since the 1940s.
“For the patients and families coming in and out its just one less thing for them to worry about in their busy day, in the middle of Minnesota,” Behrens said.
With the help from outside sensors, once it hits 32 degrees, underground tubes kick in.
“I think originally there was probably copper tubing,” Behrens said. “But its a plastic tubing that sits below the sidewalk and runs an anti freeze through it.”
Within the 12 miles of sidewalk on the Mayo Clinic campus in downtown, Behrens estimates that four of those miles are heated.
“I decided to skateboard to work, even though I knew it was going to snow,” McConaughey said.
Now, it’s a part of the Clinic’s design.
“As we design new buildings we always incorporate heated sidewalks into our buildings,” Behrens said. “My crew doesn’t have to worry about the downtown stuff. As we’re getting storms or in the middle of a snow storm, they know that most of our patients and staff are safe downtown because its dry.”
Another benefit of the heated sidewalks, the clinic doesn’t have to use salt in those areas.