MnDOT has awarded 225-thousand dollars in Safe Routs to School grants and two area communities have receiving a portion of the funding for planning assistance.

sam-parker

Sam Parker with Region Nine.

The City of Waseca and the St. Clair School District were awarded grants on Tuesday. MnDOT received applications from more than 63 schools in the state and handed out 12 grants.

Region Nine Development Commission Transportation Planner Sam Parker says the funding helps start the process to have community conversations about how to make walking and biking better.

“We’ll survey the parents. We will work with a committee of leaders from the community representing different things, whether it’s law enforcement, city administration, county engineers, MnDOT and the school. We’ll kind of see where that information goes. We try not to define the problems before the plan.”

Region Nine will be facilitating the process for community engagement meetings on safe routes to school that are expected to begin this summer.

Parker adds that the money for planning often opens up federal and state funding sources.

“To implement projects like we saw at Sibley (Street) and Riverfront (Drive) in Mankato. Janesville received funds to do sidewalk improvements around their school this year. Blue Earth, I did it last year down in Faribault County. So, yeah, it’s a huge first step.”

Since 2005, MnDOT has awarded approximately 20-million dollars in federal funds to support the Safe Routes to School program.