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Feb-20-2008 11:37printcomments

New Round of Grants Gives $1.3 Million to 20 Schools

The Oregon Safe Routes to School program awards funds for education and encouragement, enforcement, engineering and evaluation.

(SALEM, Ore.) - Twenty Oregon schools serving pre-kindergarten through eighth graders will receive more than $1.3 million in grant funds from the Safe Routes to School program, administered by the Oregon Department of Transportation.

Safe Routes to School is a federally funded program designed to encourage and enable easier and healthier ways for children to walk and bike to and from school safely. This round of grant monies is dedicated to infrastructure improvements at schools or within two miles of a school.

The top proposals addressed how schools would provide a variety of traffic tools to improve safety. Projects receiving funds range from extending bike paths to adding curb ramps, from removing abandoned crosswalk markings to creating new sidewalks.

Several schools will build bicycle shelters and add traffic calming measures, such as variable message signs alerting motorists of nearby pedestrians/bicyclists. Competitive proposals also included efforts schools would put forth in the community, such as pedestrian and bicycle safety classes, outreach about sharing the roadway, and enforcement of speed limits and crosswalk laws in school zones.

"The majority of funds in this program are set aside for infrastructure improvements," said Program Manager Julie Yip. "Applicants told us their Safe Routes to School Teams identified physical and structural improvements that are essential to persuading more parents to allow their students to walk or bike to school."

Central Elementary in La Grande, for example, identified the top two priorities for students living within the one-mile no-busing zone as improved intersection safety and improved infrastructure (sidewalks).

A Portland parent commented in one application, "If all areas near the school had sidewalks or fewer people drove their children to/from school, I would feel much safer on our walking commute."

One application included an essay from a sixth grade student explaining the need for a covered bike cage. The student wrote, "A big reason why I think we need a covered bike cage is because I have a very nice bike. It would upset me if…my bike became rusty from sitting out in the rain all day. Also, it would be nice not to have to worry about drying my seat off at the end of the school day. I think this would encourage more kids to ride their bikes to school."

"The Advisory Committee acknowledged the hard work all the applicants put forward in pulling together their School Teams to create the Action Plans and making the essential connections with partners in education, public works, traffic safety, law enforcement, public health, transit and pupil transportation," Yip said. "It was evident to the Advisory Committee that Oregon communities care very much about improving the health and well-being of their students."

The Oregon Safe Routes to School program awards funds for education and encouragement, enforcement, engineering and evaluation. For more information about the program, visit Safe Routes to School grant award recipients Eugene School District: Monroe Middle School receives $72,022 for construction of roof over existing bike cage; upgrade bike lock-up security system; add facilities for 24 skate/long boards; add coat/raingear storage rack.

City of Portland, Office of Transportation: Atkinson Elementary School, Capitol Hill Elementary School, Chapman Elementary School, Chief Joseph Pre-K – 5; Faubion K – 7, Forest Park Elementary School, Gilbert Heights Elementary School; Kelly Elementary School, Rosa Parks Elementary School, Sacramento Elementary School, Sunnyside Elementary Schools. $499,600 will be used to add curb ramps, curb extensions, pedestrian refuge islands, sidewalks; install pedestrian countdown signal heads at or near eleven elementary schools.

Corvallis School District/City of Corvallis: Adams Elementary School receives $35,446 to add curb cut and ramp at multimodal path end; remove abandoned crosswalk marking; install pedestrian-activated crosswalk signal; re-stripe parking lot; add covered bike racks.

Corvallis School District/City of Corvallis: Lincoln Elementary School $67,274 will be used for the addition of bike/pedestrian path connector; add sidewalk on east side of parking lot; add bike racks and shelter.

Philomath School District/Benton County: Philomath Elementary School, Philomath Middle School, Clemens Primary School was given $96,597 for the purchase and installation of bike hoops. They will also add covered bike shelters; purchase and install two Variable Message Sign traffic-calming signs.

La Grande School District/City of La Grande: Central Elementary School receives $203,850 to add sidewalks as connectors

City of Bend/Commute Options: Bear Creek Elementary School will receive $124,724 to complete sidewalks along road near school.

Springfield School District: Thurston Elementary School will receive $214,300 which will allow them to add bike shelter and bike racks; and to build new concrete path to shelter TOTAL $1,313,813

Source: Oregon Department of Transportation

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