Update from the California Safe Routes to School Program

On October 17, 2011, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) awarded $66 million to local and regional agencies for a total of 139 federally-funded Safe Routes to School projects.

A total of 99 infrastructure projects for approximately $50 million were funded with a maximum funding award of $900,000. The types of projects that were funded include bike lanes, traffic calming, sidewalks and other safety projects to benefit children walking and bicycling to school. Up to 10 percent of the construction funds could be used in a combined project to encourage the safe use of the infrastructure improvements.

California also awarded 40 non-infrastructure projects totaling $16 million that provided for projects that encourage and educate children to walk and bicycle safely. Each program that was awarded was unique to their schools and community and included such items as creating citywide Safe Routes to School parent corps, Safe Routes to School toolkits, Street Smarts programs among other strategies that would meet the goals of the program.

Caltrans has 12 district offices throughout the state that review project applications within their region and submit their selections to the director of Caltrans for approval.  On March 30, Caltrans also closed a call for applications for $45 million in state-funded Safe Routes to School SR2S funds.  It takes approximately six months from the time Caltrans releases the call for projects until the time that successful projects are awarded.  On average, one in four project applications are funded in California during a call for projects cycle.

In addition to the federal and State Safe Routes to School funding update, there is even more happening in California. The state network remains strong and is focusing its efforts through three state policy action teams that work on funding, Complete Streets, and joint use and school siting.  They convene their monthly state network conference calls on the fourth Thursday of every month at 9am pacific - if you are in California - consider joining them! If you are interested in learning more and getting involved with the California state network project’s efforts please check out the microsite here or follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

For more information on the California Safe Routes to School program, contact Dawn Foster, SRTS coordinator at (916) 653-6920 or visit their website. For more information on the California Safe Routes to School state network project, contact Jessica Meaney, advocacy organizer at jessica@saferoutespartnership.org.