Two Grand Rapids schools were awarded Safe Routes to Schools grants. The Robert J Elkington Middle School and Murphy Elementary School were awarded $261,000 for sidewalk improvements. The Safe Routes to School infrastructure grants will support schools and communities in building separate pedestrian and bicycle facilities, crossing enhancements and traffic measures that reduce speeds such as medians, crossing islands, speed humps and signage.
Since 2006, MnDOT has received SRTS applications requesting more than $100 million. Approximately $17 million in grants were awarded, illustrating the gap between current need and investment.
To narrow that gap, Gov. Mark Dayton is recommending a $2.5 million annual base increase for bike and pedestrian infrastructure as part of his transportation proposal for the 2015 legislative session.
“The state has an obvious need to increase access to safe options for walking and bicycling,” said MnDOT Commissioner Charlie Zelle. “Safe Routes to Schools is a proven program that keeps children safe as they walk or bike to and from school.”
Safe bicycle and pedestrian access has many benefits, including reducing congestion around schools, reducing school transportation costs, and providing an opportunity for physical activity, which decreases obesity, improves health and supports academic achievement.
More information about the Safe Routes to School grants is on the SRTS website.