In 2004, the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) participated in a Safe Routes to School pilot program held in three schools in the Chittenden County, VT, Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO). The MPO implemented the pilot program, and VTrans worked closely with the goal that it could use what was learned through this program to launch a statewide initiative when a national program and funding became available. This goal soon was realized when, in 2005, Congress passed the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users. This act authorizes programs for highways, highway safety and transit, allowing Vermont to create a statewide SRTS program to encourage healthier kids and safer roads in school zones.
To establish the statewide SRTS program, VTrans created a SRTS application process to fund non- infrastructure projects. This application process yielded 39 applications, 28 of which ultimately received funding. In May 2007, a new process began to fund infrastructure projects among the 28 participating communities. The recipients have not been determined yet, but VTrans anticipates funding up to $1.4 million in infrastructure projects.
VTrans attributes much of the SRTS program’s success to the formation of a multi-disciplinary task force, comprised of representatives from non-profit organizations, community-based advocacy groups and departments within the state government. One benefit of the task force is the collaboration among different programs. This collaboration has led to identifying a diverse range of stakeholders and opportunities for mutual program promotion.
In 2006, the majority of VTrans’ efforts focused on promoting the SRTS program by reaching out to potential stakeholders around the state. Informational displays, newsletter publications, press releases and participation in advisory groups were the efforts used to reach these potential stakeholders. VTrans also supported the participating schools and regional coordinators through web-based seminars, which provided an overview of typical infrastructure improvements and site visits offering opportunities to review infrastructure projects.
Outside of the task force, VTrans has other partnerships, which also contribute to the program’s success. To reduce the administrative burden on the smaller communities receiving SRTS funding, VTrans works with engineering firms to do the required design and work on behalf of the communities. Also, VTrans and the Department of Health work together to encourage the use of Coordinated School Health Teams as local Safe Routes Teams.
VT Agency of Transportation
1 National Life Dr. Montpelier, VT 05633-5001