Before applying for the grant, Renaissance Director Cindy Sholar had talked with officials at the Trigg County Board of Education about what they thought would be a good way to improve the safety of student pedestrians, which is one of the program’s main intentions. After speaking with and a few others, such as John L. Street Library Director Pam Metts, she included a plan for a pedestrian cross light that could be activated by pushing a button. There was supposed to be a traffic light at the crosswalk in front of the school campus that would remain green until someone pushed the button to cross the street. At the time, the traffic light would turn red and the pedestrian would be able to cross.
Cadiz is one of a select few communities across the state that was selected to participate in the SRTS pilot program. According to the SRTS guidebook, the purpose of the program is to “enable and encourage children, including those with disabilities, to walk and bicycle to school; to make bicycling and walking to school a safer and more appealing transportation alternative; and to 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 schools.”
The program is part of a larger federal program known as SAFTEA-LU (the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users), which was signed into law in August. The Safe Routes to School Program is supposed to be funded at $612 million over five federal fiscal years, from 2005 to 2009. The program is administered by the Federal Highway Administration Office of Safety.
Much of the money for the grants is devoted to constructing sidewalks and other pedestrian-related facilities to encourage more children to walk or ride bikes to school. Funds must also be used to promote the program to the public and for educational programs in the schools promoting walking and healthy lifestyles.
The maximum amount that communities could apply for was $250,000, so Sholar was stunned last summer when she found out that Cadiz had approved for all but $4,000 of that amount. The tentative budget approved at the time allocated $50,000 (about 20.3 percent of the total) for the traffic light at the crosswalk; $20,000 for planning and engineering; $150,000 for new sidewalks; $15,000 for curbs; $1,000 for a media campaign to promote the program; $2,000 for educational materials to be used in the schools; $2,000 for promotional materials; and $1,600 for new bike racks for the schools.
For the rest of this story, read this week's Cadiz Record.