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September 28
SCDOT Commission Funds Bicycle/Pedestrian Programs for 12 Schools

“Safe Routes to School” Program is 100 percent Federally Funded

 

The South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT) Commission has approved funding for 12 schools to develop comprehensive bicycle and pedestrian programs as part of the newly established “Safe Routes to School Program.”  These schools were selected from a total of 28 applicants based on a competitive process.

Selected schools and their respective communities will begin the planning phase of the Safe Routes to School funding process this fall. By partnering with SCDOT, local governments, parents, local law enforcement and educators, each school and community will develop a plan that encompasses both infrastructure and non-infrastructure components. Projects and programs will begin in early 2008.

The Safe Routes to School Program was established in August 2005 as part of the federal transportation authorization bill authorizing the Federal surface transportation programs for highways, highway safety, and transit for 2005-2009.  It is a comprehensive bicycle and pedestrian program for schools with grades K-8.

 This legislation provides funding, for the first time, for State Departments of Transportation to create and administer Safe Routes to School programs in communities. The purposes of the programs are:

1.         to enable and encourage children, including those with disabilities, to walk and bicycle to school

2.         to make bicycling and walking to school a safer and more appealing transportation alternative, thereby encouraging a healthy and active lifestyle from an early age; and

3.         to facilitate the planning, development, and implementation of projects and activities that will improve safety and reduce traffic congestion, fuel consumption, and air pollution in the vicinity (approximately 2 miles) of primary and middle schools (Grades K-8). 

Funds must be used for both infrastructure improvements (engineering and construction projects) as well as non-infrastructure programs within schools and communities (education, encouragement, enforcement programs, and evaluation.) This is a comprehensive outreach program that addresses environmental issues, health and physical activity for youth and adults, educational impact, traffic congestion, and accessibility to all modes of transportation. 

Each recipient school must adopt a comprehensive SRTS Program including the “Five E’s:” Education, Encouragement, Enforcement, Engineering, and Evaluation.

Schools selected to participate will receive up to $200,000. These funds are 100 percent federal dollars and require no match from the state or local governments.

SCDOT designed the program application to assess the need for Safe Routes to School programs at schools in South Carolina. The need is determined through evaluation of current student travel patterns, potential participation, physical and perceived barriers to SRTS, traffic issues, crash data, an exhibited existing interest in SRTS, and understanding of the comprehensive nature of SRTS.

            A team of judges was formed representing the Department of Public Safety, Department of Health and Environmental Control, Department of Education, and SCDOT. The SRTS Steering Committee (made up of representatives from various SCDOT departments) determined the final prioritization list for approval by the Commission.

The schools for the 2007 funding cycles are: College Park Elementary School, Berkeley County; Alston Middle School, Dorchester County; Willow Drive Elementary School, Sumter County; North Vista Elementary School, Florence County; Wren Elementary/Middle School, Anderson County; Lone Oak Elementary School and Pine Street Elementary School, both of Spartanburg County; Rosewood Elementary School, Richland County; College Park Middle School, Berkeley County; Fairfield Middle School, Fairfield County; Stono Park Elementary School and Hunley Park Elementary School, both of Charleston County.

Applications for next year’s programs will be accepted in the spring of 2008.

The South Carolina Secretary of Transportation is H. B. “Buck” Limehouse Jr. The SCDOT Commission includes Chairman Bobby T. Jones, 5th Congressional District; Vice Chairman Joe Young, 1st Congressional District; Henry Taylor, 2nd Congressional District; Marion P. Carnell, 3rd Congressional District; F. Hugh Atkins, 4th Congressional District; Marvin Stevenson, 6th Congressional District; and Tee Hooper, Governor’s At-Large Appointee.

For more information on the Safe Routes to School Program in South Carolina, contact Patti Dalis Sistrunk, Safe Routes to School Program Coordinator, SCDOT (803) 737-4073.