What is the Safe Route to School (SRTS) Program?
Safe Routes to School (SRTS) is a national and international movement to enable and encourage kids to walk and bike to school. The program is a comprehensive approach that looks at ways to make walking and biking to school safer and more appealing, thus encouraging a healthy and active lifestyle from an early age. Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) guidance for the SRTS program is available at FHWA’s web site.
What are the benefits of a Safe Route to School Program?
A successful Safe Route to School program benefits children in several ways. When routes are safe, walking or biking to and from school is an easy way to get the regular physical activity children need for good health. Studies have shown that physically active kids have improved mood and concentration, a stronger self-image and more self confidence. Physically active kids also have fewer chronic health problems and report lower levels of smoking and alcohol consumption.
It is also FUN! Research shows that walking or biking is children’s preferred method of getting to school. There is so much to see, smell, touch, think and talk about. By walking with friends, children will build relationships and learn more about their neighborhood, their friends, and themselves. Safe Routes to School initiatives help the environment by easing traffic jams and curbing air pollution. Research has shown that 25 percent of morning traffic is parents driving their students to school. Fewer car trips also mean lower gasoline bills, a significant factor with today’s higher prices.
How do I get started?
Community participation in the development and implementation of projects and activities is vital to the success of the SRTS program. By involving the public, schools, local agencies, community leaders, parents, teachers, and others to identify solutions that improve the ability of students to walk and bicycle to school safely. While every community is unique, and each school will have different circumstances and barriers to overcome, here is some basic guidance to follow:
1. Bring together the right people: Identify people who want to make walking and bicycling to school safe and appealing for children. Sharing concerns, interests and knowledge among a variety of community members with diverse expertise can enable groups to tackle many issues.
2. Hold a kick off meeting and set a vision: A goal of the first meeting is to create a vision and generate the next steps for the group members.
3. Gather information and identify issues: Collecting information can help to identify needed program elements and provide a means to measure the impact of the program later.
4. Identify solutions: Solutions to identified issues will include a combination of education, encouragement, engineering and enforcement strategies. Safety is the first consideration.
5. Make a plan: It doesn't need to be lengthy. Include encouragement, enforcement, education and engineering strategies. Create a time schedule for the plan.
6. Get the plan and people moving: Hold a kick off event starting with a fun activity. Participate in International Walk to School Day or celebrate a Walking Wednesday.
7. Evaluate, adjust and keep moving: To sustain the program, consider building additional program champions and letting people know about your successes.
Where does the funding come from?
The Safe Routes to Schools Program (SRTS) was established in August 2005 as part of the Federal Highway Transportation Bill and is intended to benefit children in elementary and middle schools (K-8).
What is North Dakota’s funding level?
The North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT) is administering the program, and for fiscal year (FY) 2012 we will not know how much federal aid will be available until the pending Highway bill is passed by Congress. The amount of federal aid funding available in FY 2012 will be difficult to predict. However, for planning purposes it is estimated that we will receive in federal funding approximately $1 million for infrastructure and noninfrastructure projects.
How may the funds be used?
The SRTS program is intended to fund projects that improve biking and walking conditions for elementary and middle school children in grades K-8.
What are the 5 Es?
Research has shown the most successful way to increase bicycling and walking is through a comprehensive approach. A good SRTS Plan addresses the 5 Es. The 5 Es are Engineering, Education, Enforcement, Encouragement and Evaluation. Applicants requesting funding for infrastructure projects are required to address each of the 5 Es.
What projects are eligible for funding?
Infrastructure improvements include (but not limited to):
- Sidewalk improvements: new sidewalks, sidewalk widening, sidewalk gap closures, sidewalk repairs, curbs, gutters, and curb ramps
- Traffic calming and speed reduction improvements: roundabouts, bulb-outs, speed humps, raised crossings, raised intersections, median refuges, narrowed traffic lanes, lane reductions, full or half-street closures, automated speed enforcement, and variable speed limits
- Pedestrian and bicycle crossing improvements: crossings, median refuges, raised crossings, raised intersections, traffic control devices (including new or upgraded traffic signals, pavement markings, traffic stripes, in-roadway crossing lights, flashing beacons, bicycle-sensitive signal actuation devices, pedestrian countdown signals, vehicle speed feedback signs, and pedestrian activated signal upgrades), and sight distance improvements
- On-street bicycle facilities: new or upgraded bicycle lanes, widened outside lanes or roadway shoulders, geometric improvements, turning lanes, channelization and roadway realignment, traffic signs, and pavement markings
- Off-street bicycle and pedestrian facilities: exclusive multi-use bicycle and pedestrian trails and pathways that are separated from a roadway
- Secure bicycle parking facilities: bicycle parking racks, bicycle lockers, designated areas with safety lighting, and covered bicycle shelters
- Traffic diversion improvements: separation of pedestrians and bicycles from vehicular traffic adjacent to school facilities, and traffic diversion away from school zones or designated routes to a school.
Non-infrastructure improvements include (but not limited to):
- Public awareness campaigns and outreach to press and community leaders
- Traffic education and enforcement in the vicinity of schools
- Student sessions on bicycle and pedestrian safety, health, and environment
- Funding for training of volunteers, and managers of local SRTS programs
Additional ideas may be found on the website for the National Center for Safe Routes to School.
What projects are ineligible for funding?
- Projects that do not specifically serve the stated purpose of the SRTS program
- Recurring costs such as crossing guard salaries (although funds may be used for crossing guard training programs)
- Projects that improve pick-up and drop-off areas for the convenience of drivers rather than to improve the safety of walking and biking for students
- Bus safety programs
- Improvements to bus stops.
How will the funds be made available to the eligible participants?
SRTS funds will be available through a competitive application process. A SRTS Advisory Committee will meet and rank the projects.
Who is eligible for the funds?
To ensure the program is available to a broad spectrum of groups both public and nonprofit entities are eligible SRTS grant recipients. Projects by nonprofit organizations and school districts must partner with a local government agency.
Who can apply?
Board of County Commissioners, Cities over 5000 population, and Bureau of Indian Affairs. Projects by Cities under 5000, School Districts, and nonprofit organizations need to partner with the Board of County Commissioners in their respective county.
Is there a local match required for SRTS funds?
All SRTS projects are 100% federally funded for eligible items, to the limit of the project award with no matching funds required. The SRTS program is a cost-reimbursement program, which means recipients of the funds will front the cost of the project and will be reimbursed from NDDOT upon completion. On infrastructure projects, cost overruns may be the responsibility of the local government. Costs incurred prior to federal authorization are not eligible for reimbursement.
Can I use Safe Routes funding as my 20% local match required for other Federal funding programs?
No, you cannot use one federal funding source (like SRTS funding) as the 20% local match required for other federal funding.
What are MPO's and why are they important to the Safe Routes to School program?
MPO stands for Metropolitan Planning Organization and they are responsible for long range planning and the Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP) in communities with population of 50,000 or more.
In North Dakota the following communities have active Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPO): Grand Forks, Fargo/West Fargo, and Bismarck/Mandan.
Projects in these metro areas must be submitted to the local MPO, with the MPO making submittal to NDDOT. If you are unsure if your project is within the MPO jurisdiction, contact the MPO office in your area. MPO contact information is as follows:
Grand Forks-East Grand Forks MPO
P.O. Box 5200 Grand Forks, ND 58206-5200
Fargo-Moorhead Council of Governments Case Plaza Center
Suite 232 1 2nd Street North Fargo, ND 58102
221 North 5th Street Bismarck, ND 58506
May I submit an application in future solicitation cycles?
Yes, previous applicants are encouraged to submit applications for future grant cycles.
What is a "walking school bus"?
A walking school bus is a group of children walking to school with one or more adults. It works like this: an adult or group of adults begin walking along a set route to school. As they walk, they make “bus stops” and “pick up” other children along the way.
Is there a limit to the amount of funding a project can receive?
Minimum funding is set at $80,000 with maximum project funding set at $200,000 for infrastructure projects.
When are applications due?
Normally, Safe Routes to School project selections will be made annually in March and April. The application submittal period begins about Labor Day and ends prior to Christmas. The deadline for the next round of applications will be posted on this web site by Labor Day.
How can I get an application?
Where do I submit my application?
All applications for projects must be submitted to the NDDOT.
Can I use Safe Routes funding as part of a larger funding package?
Yes. Safe Routes funding may be combined with other funds to construct a large project. However, SRTS funds can not be used to match other federal funds.
Can projects be staged or phased across multiple applications?
At this time we are asking that applicants focus on projects that can be completed within the scope of the application.