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Area schools awarded Safe Routes to School grants for planning, sidewalks

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The Minnesota Department of Transportation announced the recipients of $3.8 million in federal grants for Safe Routes to School. The grants will support Safe Routes to School at 105 schools in 61 communities.

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“These projects will help communities increase opportunities for children to walk and bike to school,” said MnDOT Commissioner Charlie Zelle. “More students walking and biking means less traffic on the road and in front of schools, improving safety and promoting healthier kids.”

A couple Becker and Otter Tail county schools were lucky enough to be recipients of the grants.

Those receiving planning grants include Frazee-Vergas and Lake Park-Audubon. Parkers Prairie in Otter Tail County also received a grant for planning.

Wadena school received an infrastructure grant to build sidewalks and curb extensions, improve crossings and install traffic control devices for Wadena-Deer Creek Elementary and Wadena-Deer Creek Middle/High School.

Schools received grants in three categories:

  • Planning – Funding to complete a Safe Routes to School plan to help analyze existing conditions, gather public input and identify potential infrastructure and non-infrastructure solutions at K-8 schools.
  • Non-Infrastructure – Funding for education, encouragement, enforcement and evaluation activities.
  • Infrastructure – Funding for improving the environment and infrastructure around the schools such as crosswalks and trails.

MnDOT announced the available grants in October 2012. It received 102 applications and funded 43 applications. The total amount requested was $15,451,103.

All Safe Routes to School grants in this solicitation are federal funds, and no local match is required. Each grant includes a resolution of support from the local governing body to ensure community support.

Since 2005, MnDOT has awarded nearly $15.5 million in federal funds to communities to support Safe Routes to School. The majority of funding — $13.1 million — was awarded for infrastructure projects. The remainder is allocated for non-infrastructure items and activities. MnDOT has about $1 million left from the federal SAFETEA-LU authorization act to distribute in 2015. Safe Routes to School projects occur in all 50 states.

Funding opportunities for future grants is unclear. MnDOT and the state Legislature are currently discussing new ways to fund projects at the state level. 

More information is available at www.mndot.gov/saferoutes.

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