With the passage of the federal transportation legislation, SAFETEA-LU, in August 2005, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) began implementing its Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program. CDOT first created an advisory committee comprising teachers, parents, law enforcement officers and local planners. The committee worked tirelessly to develop the process and procedures for identifying, selecting and implementing the project, as well as creating a new program for oversight, the budget and evaluation.
In December 2005, four months after the program began, Colorado became the first state to post its application and call for projects. In this first round of funding, CDOT received 72 applications and awarded approximately $2 million to 29 infrastructure and educational projects. A second round of funding occurred in 2007 and led to providing almost $1.3 million to fund 16 SRTS projects across the state.
To assist the schools that received funding with implementing their SRTS programs, CDOT designed a training program, which brings together grantees and CDOT personnel. These meetings had a significant impact on the implementation process. First, grantees who never had received federal funding before could learn the requirements. Also, CDOT project managers learned the importance of bicycle and pedestrian access around each school, while the grantees learned about the technical aspects of their projects.
Technical assistance is one avenue used by CDOT to promote the SRTS program. CDOT held three SRTS application trainings and worked hard to provide technical training and support to areas of rural Colorado. In addition to providing technical assistance, CDOT markets the SRTS program in newsletters, publications, workshops and Web sites. Another piece to promote the program is a five minute DVD highlighting one exemplary SRTS project that informs grantees and potential applicants of key aspects to include in their projects.
CDOT believes that the success of their SRTS program lies in its partnerships, which strengthen the program and reach different audiences. CDOT partners with non-profit agencies, such as Bicycle Colorado, to hold SRTS teacher trainings across the state. Currently, CDOT is working with the Colorado State Patrol to implement a Web-based crossing guard training program.
State of Colorado, Department of Transportation
4201 E Arkansas Ave, Shumate Bldg
Denver, CO 80222