COLUMBUS - The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) has an opportunity for Ohio school districts or their partners to apply for funding to develop and implement projects that enable and encourage children to safely walk or bike to school.
ODOT’s Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program is funded at $5 million annually, a one million dollar increase from last year. It provides funding for infrastructure improvements such as pedestrian and bicycle crossing improvements, new or improved sidewalks, and bike racks. It also helps fund non-infrastructure activities such as walk to school days, bike rodeos, public awareness campaigns, and educational programs.
“Ensuring that Ohio children get to school safely by walking and biking is just as important as ensuring safe travels in a school bus or car,” said Governor Mike DeWine. “The additional funding provided to this program will allow more communities and schools to make routes between home and school safe, convenient, and accessible.”
Eligible applicants include local governments, school districts, health districts, park districts, or key non-profit partners involved in advancing safe routes to school in your community. Please note, infrastructure projects can only be awarded to a city, village, county or township.
ODOT will make awards on a competitive basis to projects that have been identified in a School Travel Plan, Active Transportation Plan, or similar plan approved by the Department. For full guidance on eligibility, be sure to check out the 2023 SRTS Application Guidance.
To assist local governments in developing a School Travel Plan (STP), ODOT is also accepting applications for STP development assistance. Questions about the SRTS application process can be sent to Caitlin Harley.
Many Safe Routes to School projects have been completed throughout Ohio over the past couple of years.
In 2021, a $125,000 safety investment built new sidewalks in Union County in the Village of Richwood on Grove Street to bridge the gap between the existing residential sidewalks and North Union Elementary School.
In the fall of 2022, Lorain County Public Health organized a Walk to School Day for students in the Clearview Local School District and Oberlin City School District. Walk to School Day is held every fall in communities across the nation to promote encourage and promote safe walking to school.
In 2022, a project in Tuscarawas County, in the city of Dover, filled a sidewalk gap between East Elementary School and other Dover City Schools facilities such as Crater Stadium.
In 2021, nearly a mile of new sidewalk was installed in the Village of Swanton in Fulton County, which eliminated the need for students to walk in the roadway to access the local elementary school. The project also improved safety/awareness at the railroad crossing, installed high visibility signage, and installed pedestrian crossings on several streets.
Projects will be selected based on their ability to demonstrate improved connectivity, improved safety, impact on school trips, and need. Additionally, projects will be reviewed for accurate cost estimates, program sustainability, and overall community commitment to implementing the project or program.
For more information on applying, please visit www.transportation.ohio.gov/saferoutes. Here you will find additional application guidelines as well as your region’s Safe Routes to School contact. The application deadline is March 3, 2023.