A safer walk to school is in the future for elementary and middle school students in Swanton. The Ohio Department of Transportation has selected Swanton to receive over $400,000 in Safe Routes to School funding.
The $402,011 grant from ODOT will support a variety of projects throughout the Village of Swanton, including sidewalks near the middle school and Swanton Elementary School.
“We are very excited about having received this grant. We have a lot of students who live within close proximity to the schools but without the proper infrastructure in place it makes it difficult for them to walk safely to school,” said Swanton Local Schools Superintendent Chris Lake. “The lack of sidewalks in particular can make it dangerous for students. The hope of the committee that worked on this grant process was to be able to offer kids the opportunity to walk, or bike, to school safely and now with this infrastructure grant we will be able to do that. This will also give parents more peace of mind when their student asks if they can walk to school.”
Of the total grant money, $388,600 will go towards infrastructure projects which are opportunities to encourage safer walking and bicycling. Infrastructure funding will become available in 2020.
Near Swanton Elementary School, the plan calls for new sidewalks on Crestwood Drive from Brookside Drive to the school, and at the east end of Church Street where there is currently no sidewalk. Crosswalk enhancements are also planned.
A sidewalk on Elton Parkway near the middle school is also in the plans. Improvements for bicyclists are planned at the railroad crossing on Main Street.
Near St. Richard School, funding was requested for bike lane improvements on Brookside Drive and enhanced crosswalks at N. Woodland Avenue and N. Fulton Street.
Also, $13,411 will go towards non-infrastructure projects such as educational and program materials. Non-infrastructure funding will become available later in 2018.
In 2017, Maumee Valley Planning Organization, in conjunction with the Village of Swanton, St. Richard Catholic School, and Swanton Local School District created a School Travel Plan to outline the steps the Swanton community will take to encourage active transportation of its students.
The Safe Routes to School (SRTS) programs aim to reduce automobile dependency by promoting safe walking and biking to school for children across the country. The Federal Highway Administration funds the Ohio Safe Routes to School program and the program is administered by ODOT.
The Swanton application was one of 31 submitted and one of 19 funded.
Reach Drew Stambaugh at 419-335-2010 or on Twitter @Swan_Enterprise