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April 23, 2007

IDOT announces new program that encourages safe environment for kids that walk or bike to school
$23 million available to fund Safe Routes to School

SPRINGFIELD—Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) Acting Secretary Milton R. Sees announced today $23 million is available to fund projects that encourage and enable students to safely walk and bike to school.  The new Safe Routes to School Program (SRTS) is a federally funded initiative that will fund projects in Illinois schools and communities over the next three years. 

 “One of the most important things about this program is the fact it offers communities a safe way to help children incorporate physical activity in their everyday lives,” said Acting Secretary Sees.  “I want to encourage communities utilize this program that will not only provide additional exercise for children but puts safety first, providing parents the peace of mind in knowing their kids have a safe route to get to school. ”

This international movement works to increase student physical activity and safety, reduce traffic congestion around schools and enhance air quality.  The National Centers for Safe Routes to School says the most successful programs are accomplished by implementing the five “E’s.”  

• Education
• Enforcement
• Evaluation
• Engineering
• Encouragement

Safe Routes to School (SRTS) is a program of the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration, administered by State Departments of Transportation.  The program is designed to help communities develop and implement projects and programs to:

• Enable and encourage children, including those with disabilities, to walk and bicycle to school;
• 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
• Facilitate the planning, development, and implementation of projects and activities that will improve safety and reduce traffic, fuel consumption, and air pollution in the vicinity of primary and middle schools (Grades K-8).

Schools serving grades K through eight are eligible for funding.  Program funds may be used for infrastructure or non-infrastructure projects and are 100% funded, requiring no local match.  Infrastructure projects must be within two miles of the school, while non-infrastructure projects have no boundary limitations.  For more information about the funding progress, log onto http://www.dot.il.gov/saferoutes/index.html


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