Four schools get Safe Routes grants

Oak View (OVMS) and Northdale (NMS) middle schools and Lincoln and Eisenhower elementary schools have received Safe Route to School planning assistance grants from the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT).

The planning assistance grant will be used to complete a Safe Routes to School (SRTS) plan to help analyze existing conditions, gather public input and identify potential infrastructure and non-infrastructure solutions.

MnDOT will provide a traffic consultant to review areas around the school and make plans to improve access to the sites.

A contract with Anoka-Hennepin School District 11 is expected to be in place by August.

This summer, a SRTS Team at each school will be selected.

The traffic consultant will work with the team to collect and summarize information that applies to the grant’s work.

This fall, parents of children attending OVMS, NMS, Lincoln and Eisenhower will be surveyed about what factors affect whether they allow their children to walk or bike to school and the presence of key safety-related conditions along routes to school.

Teachers will be asked to conduct data about how students get to school through a “student travel tally.”

Sometime in October or November, the traffic consultant will prepare for a walking and bicycling audit.

Transportation routes within the walk zone and around the school will be audited for walking and bicycling friendliness.

The traffic consultant will also work with the SRTS Team to host a neighborhood meeting to discuss the audit.

In late winter/early spring a draft plan will be developed. The final plan is scheduled to be finalized by April 2013.

“These projects will help communities increase opportunities for kids to walk and bike to school,” said MnDOT Commissioner Tom Sorel.

“More kids walking and biking means less traffic on the road and in front of schools, improving safety and promoting healthier kids.”

All SRTS grants use federal funds and no local match is required.

Each grant includes a resolution of support from the local governing body to ensure community support.

Grants for infrastructure projects, such as sidewalks and crosswalks, were not available this year.

Since 2005, MnDOT has awarded $11.3 million in federal funds to communities to support Safe Routes to School.

The majority of funding — $9.9 million — was awarded for infrastructure projects.

The remainder is allocated for non-infrastructure items and activities. Funding for Safe Routes to School is available in all 50 states.

More information on Safe Routes to School is available at www.mndot.gov/saferoutes.

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