(The Center Square) – Ohio plans to spend nearly $10 million on projects the state says will improve safety for students walking and biking to school.
The $9.8 million covers 45 projects in 25 counties and is part of the state’s Safe Routes to Schools program that funds new sidewalks and path extensions, crosswalks, flashing beacons, bike lanes and other safety equipment.
It also provides programs for communities to encourage K-12 students who live within 2 miles of their schools to walk or ride a bike.
“Walking and biking is a healthy way for children to get to and from school, but we must ensure each student can do so safely. This program provides that opportunity,” Gov. Mike DeWine said.
The program is funded by a $5 million appropriation annually, and this year’s $9.8 million expenditure is the largest in program history. During the review process, the state determined six projects could be funded through two other Ohio Department of Transportation programs.
“I’m encouraged to see the increasing interest in active transportation across our state and proud of our efforts to make it safer to walk or ride a bike,” ODOT Director Jack Marchbanks said. “However, these safety improvements aren’t as effective if drivers aren’t paying attention, driving the speed limit, and being extra alert for young children, especially around schools during school hours.”
The three largest projects received $500,000 each, including a plan to improve sidewalks and crossings in Caldwell, Ohio; building a bicycle lane near Champion Middle School in Columbus; and sidewalks and crosswalks in Edgerton.
Since its inception in 2005, the state has given more than $75 million to schools, municipalities, health districts, park districts and nonprofits for the program.