Since its inception in February 2006, the Connecticut Department of Transportation’s (ConnDOT) Safe Routes to School (SRTS) Program has awarded approximately $1.6 million in federal funding for promotion, training and infrastructure projects. Approximately $1.3 million of this amount went to fund infrastructure projects, such as installing pedestrian signals, creating dedicated bicycle lanes and filling in gaps in discontinuous sidewalk networks.
ConnDOT announced a call for applications soon after the program’s inception. The application encouraged only schools with a SRTS plan to apply. This aggressive approach set the state standard that SRTS plans must be completed before seeking federal SRTS funding administered through ConnDOT.
During the 2006 fiscal year, the University of Connecticut’s Technology Transfer Center received funding from ConnDOT to promote the SRTS program. The University developed a SRTS Web site, held informational sessions on SRTS awareness and met with the state coordinator and other stakeholders to discuss the future of the program. The University continues to provide statewide SRTS training and evaluation assistance.
ConnDOT works with other agencies to support financially the SRTS programs in rural and urban communities. For example, the National Highway Traffic Safety Association funded a local health district to implement a SRTS program in rural Tolland, Conn. Also, the Active Living Resource Center is assisting urban Hartford, Conn.’s school district with developing a SRTS program.
To encourage participation in International Walk to School Day, ConnDOT provided incentives to the schools that registered their events through the International Safe Routes to School Web site. Skinner Road Elementary School in Vernon, Conn., used these initiatives to promote walking to school, leading to a 50 percent increase in the school’s walking population. Representatives from this school will be making a presentation at the first SRTS National Conference in Michigan in November 2007.
In June 2007, the Connecticut SRTS Program received a recognition award from the Connecticut Greenways Council. This award acknowledged the accomplishments of Connecticut SRTS in promoting active lifestyles among school children.
Sharon P. Okoye
Connecticut Department of Transportation
2800 Berlin Turnpike, Rm 2342
Newington, CT 06131-7546