Ohio Safe Routes to School Funding Available
Local governments and non-profit organizations are invited to apply for funds to help Ohio grade-school children get safely to school by foot or on a bicycle. Funds will be awarded on a competitive basis to eligible applicants who have ODOT-approved School Travel Plans, have developed their Safe Routes to School program, and who can show a demonstrated need for funding to implement the plan. Applicants may also apply for funds to develop their School Travel Plan. The program serves students in grades k-8.
Eligible projects include infrastructure projects such as bike/walking paths within two miles of schools, and non-infrastructure projects such as training, public awareness, and traffic enforcement. Last year ODOT awarded nearly $4 million to communities across the state. In northwest Ohio, the Village of Whitehouse was awarded $224,000 to construct a pedestrian bridge and sidewalks. Dennis Recker, administrator for the Village of Whitehouse, said that the preliminary work – real estate appraisals and right-of-way research – for that project is nearly complete and they expect to have new sidewalks and a bridge completed in 2010. “It’s a great program,” said Recker. “I heavily encourage communities to look at it if you see a way that you can help kids get to school more safely.”
The City of Oregon has also used Safe Routes To School funding. The city completed sidewalk improvements along Starr Avenue in fall of 2008, and has a new program providing incentives for walkers that began this year.
The application cycle is open from September 8 through November 2, 2009. To view and download applications go to:
Governor Strickland’s office says that more than a third of youths aged 9 to 15 live within a mile of school, but less than half of these students walk or bike even one day a week. The daily commute to school is a lost opportunity for students to get much-needed physical activity and to learn more about their neighbors and the community.