SPRINGFIELD – With summer break coming to an end and students hitting the books, the Illinois Department of Transportation announced today that it is seeking proposals for projects that will help children walk and bike to school through the Safe Routes to School program. The funding opportunity further highlights IDOT’s commitment under Gov. JB Pritzker to promote and expand active transportation options in communities throughout Illinois.
“Children who walk or bike to school from an early age have a leg up on creating an active, healthy lifestyle that benefits both them and the environment,” said Illinois Transportation Secretary Omer Osman. “We are proud to offer this program to help ensure every student has the opportunity to take advantage of these obvious benefits by providing safe and enjoyable routes to school.”
Administered by IDOT using federal funds, Safe Routes to School supports projects that improve safety and reduce traffic in areas around elementary and middle schools. The new grant cycle will distribute a total of $12 million for infrastructure projects only. Projects can include new sidewalks, speed monitoring systems and improvements to make routes more accessible for individuals with disabilities. A 20% local match is required, with a maximum award of $250,000.
Successful applications must demonstrate how the projects will encourage students to walk or bike. Eligible applicants include school districts, local governments, planning organizations and nonprofit associations. Greater benefit will be placed on schools with higher percentages of low-income students and students with disabilities.
The deadline to apply is Sept. 30. The awards will be announced early next year.
The grant opportunity is the latest effort by IDOT under Gov. Pritzker to grow and enhance active transportation in Illinois communities.
Earlier this summer, IDOT awarded almost $106 million through the Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program for projects that expand local transportation options, including walking and biking. The amount was the largest ever for the program and made possible by Gov. Pritzker’s Rebuild Illinois, the first capital program in state history that touches all modes of transportation: roads and bridges, rail, transit, aviation, waterways, walking and biking.