Archive for Friday, November 16, 2007

Baldwin City gains Safe Routes to School grant

November 16, 2007

Routes to school in Baldwin City will be $206,630 safer after the city secured a grant from the Kansas Department of Transportation.

KDOT announced Friday the communities that had been awarded grants in its Safe Routes to School program. Baldwin City's wasn't the biggest award as six cities were given the maximum amount of $250,000.

But, City Administrator Jeff Dingman was still pleased with the grant and said it will be used for a variety of ways to create safer access to schools.

"The bulk of the award -- $193,000 -- will be used for sidewalk, crosswalk and signage improvements at six different specific locations in town," said Dingman. "Those locations include the area around Baldwin Elementary School Primary Center, the alley used as a walkway from Ames Street to Quayle near Baldwin Junior High School, sidewalks along the highway to fill gaps between Eighth Street and Fourth Street, remark and improve visibility of existing crosswalks along Sixth Street, mark crosswalks at intersections along Crimson Avenue and improvements along Eighth Street to put in curb ramps and improve crosswalks and visibility."

However, the money won't all go to physical improvements. The other $13,000 will go to education.

"Education programs such as classroom curriculum for students in grades kindergarten through eighth grade, assemblies and guest speakers, bike rodeo and Safe Routes to School maps are included, as well as encouragement programs at the schools such as promoting Walk to School Days and a frequent walker/biker miles program," he said. "Evaluation programs involving parent and student surveys throughout the year are included."

KDOT didn't say yes to everything the city had requested.

"We had proposed adding a crossing guard program for the intersections of Sixth and Ames and Eighth and Ames, but that portion of our request was not funded," said Dingman.

The improvements won't happen right away.

"As for when we might start, it likely won't be until spring/summer of 2008," he said. "We have to get all the paperwork in order with the state and I haven't received the Local Sponsor agreements from KDOT yet. They said they hoped to get them out to us before the end of the year.

"Once we have that in place, we'll be able to move forward with getting our projects ready for bid," he said.

It marks the first time the city has been awarded a grant from the program and Dingman is hopeful that it won't be the last.

"This was our first attempt at applying for Phase II funding for some high-dollar programs and projects," he said. "Hopefully, we have successful projects and are encouraged to apply for more funding in the future in order to address even more areas of the city. Again, this grant funds 100 percent of these improvements."

There were 24 communities in Kansas that received either Phase I or Phase II funding from KDOT. The program's aim is to encourage students to walk or bike to school.

"The Safe Routes to School programs have been very popular throughout Kansas and I'm encouraged with the number of excellent applications we received," said Lisa Koch, KDOT Safe Routes to School coordinator. "At its heart, the SRTS program empowers communities to make walking and bicycling to school a safe and routine activity once again.

"We have seen obesity rates among children more than double in the past 20 years," said Koch. "It's probably not a coincidence that only 15 percent of all school trips are made by walking or bicycle so this program can play a vital role in the health of our children."

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