Safe Routes grant brings $200,000 to city, district
Children in the Baldwin School District will be able to get to school safer this year, thanks in large part to a $206,630 grant from the state.
Baldwin City was awarded the Kansas Department of Transportation Safe Routes to School grant late last year. It was one of seven communities in the state to receive in excess of $200,000 for the program designed to make it safer and easier to walk or bike to school in an effort to promote fitness.
Baldwin Elementary School Primary Center, Baldwin Elementary Intermediate Center and Baldwin Junior High School will benefit from the improvements.
"The bulk of the award - $193,000 - will be used for sidewalk, crosswalk and signage improvements in six different specific locations," said City Administrator Jeff Dingman, adding that the other $13,000 goes to educational programs.
Design work is being completed on those projects and work could start as soon as that is completed. It's unknown if it will be finished before school starts in August.
"We only have one of the six that might need special timing considerations, as it's in front of the BESPC and we don't want any construction to mess with their pickups and drop offs when school is in session," said Dingman. "I'm pretty sure we won't be in a position to get that done before school starts, but there is an outside chance."
Baldwin City's grant was for Phase II of the grant program, which is the actual bricks and mortar to improve safety. Phase I funding allows studies to be done, which had already taken place here.
A total of 24 Kansas communities received either Phase I or Phase II funding this year. As more communities learn about it, the demand goes up.
"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."
Baldwin City didn't get everything it wanted in its grant application or it would have totaled the maximum $250,000.
"We had proposed adding a crossing guard program for the intersection of Sixth and Ames (streets) and Eighth and Ames, but that portion of our request was not funded," said Dingman.
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