The wait is nearly over! Safe Routes to School Infrastructure program will be gearing up this summer. As part of House Bill 2017, passed in July 2017, the state legislature has newly dedicated funding to build safety projects within one-mile radiuses of schools so students can walk and bike safely. This Safe Routes to School (SRTS) Infrastructure Program has the potential to transform neighborhoods and communities near school sites.
Starting in 2019, the state has dedicated $10 million annually to the SRTS Infrastructure Program until 2023, when the amount will increase to $15 million. Projects must be within the public right of way and there is a required 40% cash match for the funds. However, for projects in communities with less than 5,000 people, near Title 1 schools, or projects along “Priority Safety Corridors”, that match may be reduced to 20%.
Brian Potwin, Active Transportation Manager for Commute Options was a member of the Oregon SRTS Rulemaking Advisory Committee that helped outline the process and requirements for funding such projects. “An important piece to the SRTS Infrastructure Program is equity and inclusivity. We want to make sure that all communities, from the very large to the very small, have an opportunity to apply and receive funding so that they can make safety improvements as needed,” says Potwin.
Some small towns may not have the resources to apply for the funding, so a small portion of the funding is set aside to help those applicants go through the application process. This helps smaller communities seek funding that they otherwise might not consider. “Additionally, the first year funds are reserved for Title 1 Schools, recognizing that those schools and communities may have unique needs or limited resources. The goal is to make sure that the process is equitable and inclusive,” says Potwin.
This big opportunity is underway this summer! Solicitation for funding starts July 23. Letters of intent are due August 31 and Applications are due on October 15. For more information, contact LeeAnne Fergason, ODOT’s Safe Routes to School Program Manager at email@example.com or 503-986-5805.