A $242,256 state grant announced Thursday will be used for sidewalks, crosswalks, signs, and pavement markings in the school zone near Andersonville Elementary School, Tennessee officials announced Thursday. It will also fund educational programs and activities that encourage walking and biking as a practical and healthy initiative.
The Anderson County grant was part of $2.1 million in grants awarded to 15 municipalities across Tennessee and announced Thursday under the Safe Routes to School program. That nationwide initiative is designed to make bicycling and walking to school safer, more appealing, and healthier for students in kindergarten through eighth grade.
The Tennessee grants were announced by Gov. Bill Haslam. They are made possible through a federally funded program administered by the Tennessee Department of Transportation.
TDOT Commissioner John Schroer said the funds can be used for two different types of programs: infrastructure projects and non-infrastructure activities, which “directly support increased safety and conveniences for students to walk and bike to and from school.”
The Anderson County program is expected to include more than 300 students.
“Increased physical activity is key to improving the health of Tennessee families,” Haslam said. “The Safe Routes to School Program helps communities across the state create safer walking and biking environments for students and funds activities that encourage healthy lifestyles.”
A press release said the Safe Routes to School program is comprised of five elements referred to as the five Es. The selection process included the following:
- Engineering—creating operational and physical improvements to the infrastructure surrounding schools that reduce speeds and potential conflicts with motor vehicle traffic, and establishing safer and fully accessible crossings, walkways, trails, and bikeways.
- Education—teaching children about the broad range of transportation choices, instructing them on important lifelong bicycling and walking safety skills, and launching driver safety campaigns in the vicinity of schools.
- Enforcement—partnering with local law enforcement agencies to ensure traffic laws are obeyed in the vicinity of schools (including enforcement of speeds, yielding to pedestrians in crossings, and proper walking and bicycling behaviors), and to initiate community efforts such as crossing guard programs.
- Encouragement—events and activities to promote walking and bicycling (e.g., Walk to School Day and Bike Rodeos).
- Evaluation—monitoring and documenting outcomes and trends through the collection of data both before and after the intervention.
To learn more about the Safe Routes to School Program at the Tennessee Department of Transportation, visit http://www.tdot.state.tn.us/bikeped/saferoutes.htm or contact Program Coordinator Diana Benedict at (615) 253-2421 or [email protected].
The press release said the Safe Routes to School grants have funded improvement projects at 138 schools across Tennessee since 2005. Nationally, more than 14,500 schools have benefited from funds through state SRTS programs.