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Schools get grants to help kids bike, walk to school

The Minnesota Department of Transportation today announced the recipients of $3.8 million in federal grants for Safe Routes to School. The grants will support Safe Routes to School at 105 schools in 61 communities.

"These projects will help communities increase opportunities for children to walk and bike to school," said MnDOT Commissioner Charlie Zelle. "More students walking and biking means less traffic on the road and in front of schools, improving safety and promoting healthier kids."

Schools received grants in three categories:

- Planning - Funding to complete a Safe Routes to School plan to help analyze existing conditions, gather public input and identify potential infrastructure and non-infrastructure solutions at K-8 schools.

- Non-Infrastructure - Funding for education, encouragement, enforcement and evaluation activities.

- Infrastructure - Funding for improving the environment and infrastructure around the schools such as crosswalks and trails.

MnDOT announced the available grants in October 2012. It received 102 applications and funded 43 applications. The total amount requested was $15,451,103.

All Safe Routes to School grants in this solicitation are federal funds, and no local match is required. Each grant includes a resolution of support from the local governing body to ensure community support.

Since 2005, MnDOT has awarded nearly $15.5 million in federal funds to communities to support Safe Routes to School. The majority of funding--$13.1 million--was awarded for infrastructure projects. The remainder is allocated for non-infrastructure items and activities. MnDOT has about $1 million left from the federal SAFETEA-LU authorization act to distribute in 2015. Safe Routes to School projects occur in all 50 states.

Funding opportunities for future grants is unclear. MnDOT and the state Legislature are currently discussing new ways to fund projects at the state level.

Safe Routes to School 2013 planning grants include:

- Austin, Mower County - 6 schools

- Bigfork, Itasca County - 1 school

- Blackduck, Beltrami County - 1 school

- Carlton, Carlton County- 1 school

- Clarkfield, Yellow Medicine County - 1 school

- Cromwell, Carlton County - 1 school

- Crosby, Crow Wing County - 2 schools

- Frazee, Becker County - 2 schools

- Floodwood, St. Louis County - 1 school

- Glenwood, Pope County - 1 school

- Kelliher, Beltrami County - 1 school

- Lake Crystal, Blue Earth County - 1 school

- Lake Park, Becker County - 2 schools

- Le Sueur, Le Sueur County - 2 schools

- Montevideo, Chippewa County - 2 schools

- Montgomery, Le Center and Lonsdale (Tri-City United Public Schools); Le Sueur & Rice counties - 4 schools

- Parkers Prairie, Otter Tail County - 2 schools

- Rice, Benton County - 1 school

- Rushford, Fillmore County - 1 school

- Sartell, Stearns & Benton counties - 2 schools

- St. Anthony Village, Hennepin County - 1 school

- Wrenshall, Carlton County - 1 school