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TDOT administers the Safe Routes to Schools Program.

The Tennessee Department of Transportationís (TDOT) Safe Routes to Schools Program provides state, local and regional agencies funding for projects designed to encourage walking and biking among elementary and middle school children. TDOT introduced the program in December 2006 and plans to announce the first round of Safe Routes to School grant awards in the summer of 2007.

The Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program is a federally funded program authorized by transportation legislation passed in 2005. In addition to improving children's safety and health, the program is designed to reduce traffic, fuel consumption, and air pollution in the vicinity of schools.

Building on local initiatives, the SRTS program funds the planning, development and implementation of infrastructure and non-infrastructure projects that encourage walking and biking among middle and elementary school children. Examples of eligible infrastructure projects include sidewalk improvements, traffic calming and speed reduction improvements, and pedestrian and bicycle crossing improvements. Importantly, the program will also provide money for activities to encourage safe walking and bicycling to school, including public awareness campaigns and outreach to press and community leaders, training for crossing guards, traffic education, and student sessions on bicycle and pedestrian safety.

Nationally, the percentage of children considered severely overweight has tripled over the past 30 years, while the percentage of children walking to school has declined from 42 percent to 16 percent. Improving walking and bicycling conditions to school not only helps children lead safe, active and healthy lives, but also addresses other community issues such as air pollution and traffic congestion. Today, parents driving their children to school account for 20 percent -25 percent of morning rush hour traffic. The new Safe Routes to School Program will rely on a broad range of expertise from professionals, including health, education, safety and transportation, and community-based groups.

The Safe Routes to School program is funded by $10.7 million in federal funds through 2009.

For more information on the Safe Routes to School Program visit www.tennessee.gov/tdot/bikeped/saferoutes.htm or contact the program coordinator at (615)253-2421.