Ryan Carpe Staff Writer
January 15, 2014
GREENVILLE - The Greenville Safe Route To Schools Travel Plan was submitted to the Ohio Department of Transportation District 7 Headquarters last month and is currently being evaluated.
The plans, which began in May of 2013, apply to Woodland Primary School, East Intermediate School, South Middle School and Junior High School, and seek to reinforce a safe, efficient, and multi-modal community transportation system that promotes Greenville’s quality of life and economic well-being.
The plan lists several possible projects for future development, including the installation of sidewalk along north side of Sater Street from Jackson Street to South Ohio Street, and to install a bike path along the east side of Ohio Street from the southeast corner of Martin Street to the southeast intersection of East Main Street.
The Greenville program’s specific goals are to increase the number of student walkers and bicyclists, to make walking and bicycling routes safer for students who are already walking, to improve students’ physical activity, to create a more walkable and bikeable community, to improve air quality and congestion around the school and to create walking and biking routes to help provide a more viable and economic development friendly community.
The Greenville Safe Routes to School Plan’s tagline is “On the Go in Greenville.”
While the process began nearly a year ago, it was in preparation of the Greenville School Levy vote.
“Obviously the new site would have a lot of impact on what future Safe Routes to School projects we would do, and how we would look at things,” said Mike Henderson of Mote & Associates.
After the plan was completed, the Greenville Safe Routes to School committee held a public forum on Dec. 2, 2013 at the Council Chambers of the City of Greenville Municipal Building where members discussed the development and overview of the plan.
The Greenville City Council and Greenville Board of Education also sent letters of support of the Routes to School Plan in order to show the community’s reinforcement of the initiative, and school administrators, elected officials and law enforcement officials signed a pledge of support.
Once the plan is approved by the Ohio Department of Transportation District 7 it can be filed for a specific project application through ODOT which could provide funding.
Ohio’s Safe Routes to School Program is designed to assist communities in developing and implementing projects and programs that encourage and enable children in grades K-8, including those with disabilities, to walk or bike to school safely.
In the meantime, ODOT is preparing for another round of Safe Routes to School applications, with $4 million going to schools across the state and applications being accepted until March 3, 2014.
ODOT is looking to continue to build upon last years’ success with a new round of applicants.
“We encourage each and every community with a need for this program to reach out and apply,” said ODOT Director Jerry Wray in a release.” We look forward to finding new opportunities and continuing to improve the safety of transportation for our children.”
Ohio is the first state to develop a comprehensive process to define needs in the largest and most disadvantaged areas in the state.
Cincinnati was the first community in the country to complete a school district wide school travel plan, and is currently working with Cincinnati Public Schools to implement aspects of that plan, including infrastructure, education and encouragement components.
“The district-wide school travel plan has and continues to be a community connection among our schools, our neighborhoods, and our city,” said Carmen Burks, Cincinnati Public Schools, Safe Routes to School Program Director. “As we move into the second year of implementation, the validation about the importance of the Safe Routes to School Program comes from the continued support and commitment to this project by the Ohio Department of Transportation and our local city officials.”
Local and regional governments, schools and community organizations are eligible to apply for funding. More information and applications are located on the Safe Routes to School website: www.dot.state.oh.us/saferoutes.