ODOT targets $3.9 million for Safe Routes to Schools
Federal funds aimed at encouraging more students to walk or bike to school
Chillicothe - With the return of warmer weather, more of Ohio’s elementary and middle school students may choose to walk or bike to school. To make sure those children get to class and home safely, the Ohio Department of Transportation is targeting $3.9 million to 66 communities as part of ODOT’s Safe Routes to School program.
School zones can be dangerous: Between 2006 and 2008, Ohio’s school zones were home to more than a 1,000 crashes. In 2008, one person was killed, and 121 people were injured.
“This year, ODOT is awarding $3.7 million in federal transportation funds to 13 local communities to build multi-use paths, bike racks, and sidewalks near schools, as well as improve lighting and signage near school zones,” said District 9 Deputy Director James Brushart. “It is my pleasure to announce that three of those communities receiving infrastructure funds are located in District 9.”
Within District 9, those that will benefit from the Safe Route to Schools program include:
- Adams County - The village of Manchester was awarded funds for the purchase of bike racks, educational and encouragement programs, and the construction of approximately one mile of a concrete walking path from the village’s eastern corporation limit to the Manchester Local Schools’ campus.
- Brown County - ODOT will construct a one-mile shared-use path from the village of Aberdeen to RULH Middle School. Without this path, students are not allowed to walk or ride to the school - currently the only way to get to RULH Middle School is to walk along U.S. Route 52.
- Ross County - The village of Frankfort has been awarded funds to construct a shared-use path from the public library to the Adena Local Schools’ campus, as well as for educational programs that will encourage children to walk and bicycle to school.
Another five communities in the state will receive $296,000 for non-infrastructure projects to develop educational materials and events or increase law enforcement near schools zones to encourage more students to walk or bike to school. And an additional $756,000 will go to 53 communities to create School Travel Plans, a required outline of how communities will encourage parents and children to travel by means other than a motor vehicle to and from school.
This is the second year ODOT has granted awards through the federal Safe Routes to School program. Last year, ODOT awarded nearly $4 million to communities across the state for school crossing signals, sidewalks, educational materials and school travel plans.
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. This is a lost opportunity for students to get much-needed physical activity and to learn more about their neighbors and the community.
National statistics from 1969 showed that half of all students walked or bicycled to school. Today, fewer than 15 percent of all school trips are made by walking or biking. Instead, more than half of all children arrive at school in private automobiles.
For more information on ODOT’s Safe Routes to School program, log on to www.dot.state.oh.us. To learn more tips for getting to school safely, go to www.saferoutesinfo.org.
For more information contact: Scott Varner (Central Office Communications) at 614-644-8640
or Kathleen Fuller at 740-774-8834