Stowe Elementary School in Duluth, MN, has approximately 375 students in preschool through the fifth grade. The school is two blocks from a highway, which creates a barrier for children who want to bicycle or walk to school but must cross the highway. Additionally, many of the neighborhoods surrounding the school lack sidewalks, so some children who walk to school must walk on dirt paths that run next to the streets.
In 2008, Stowe Elementary received $171,360 in Safe Routes to School funding from the Minnesota Department of Transportation to make infrastructure improvements around the school and to encourage pedestrian safety among the students.
Most of the funding will be used to implement the infrastructure projects. The first project will narrow the two outside lanes of the highway for two blocks in an effort to slow the traffic along the road. The funds also will be used to construct sidewalks and concrete curb extensions and to purchase LED streetlights, school crossing signs and flashers. Using grant funds, the school also will implement an age-appropriate safety education curriculum and begin Walking School Bus activities. In March 2008, the school organized a Walking School Bus program for one week, in which parents led four walking school buses. About 40 students participated in the Walking School Bus, and the school saw an increase in the number of children who walked and bicycled to school.
Stowe Elementary plans to start the infrastructure projects in summer 2008 and for the projects to be completed within two years.