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MnDOT announces Safe Routes to School grants

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news Brainerd, 56401
Brainerd MN 506 James St. / PO Box 974 56401

Brainerd will get a $300,000 grant for its Safe Routes to School project.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation Thursday announced the recipients of $3.8 million in federal grants for Safe Routes to School. The grants will support Safe Routes to School at 105 schools in 61 communities.

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Construction in Brainerd is set to begin in summer 2014, said city engineer Jeff Hulsether. First, officials must meet to draft clear project plans and prepare construction plans.

The grant will help fund adding sidewalks and curb extensions for children walking and bicycling to Garfield School.

Other local cities to receive Safe Routes to School grants are Crosby, for planning; and Wadena, for sidewalks and curb extensions, improving crossings and installing traffic control devices for Wadena-Deer Creek Elementary and Wadena-Deer Creek Middle/High School.

“These projects will help communities increase opportunities for children to walk and bike to school,” said MnDOT Commissioner Charlie Zelle. “More students walking and biking means less traffic on the road and in front of schools, improving safety and promoting healthier kids.”

MnDOT announced the available grants in October 2012. It received 102 applications and funded 43 applications. The total amount requested was $15,451,103.

All Safe Routes to School grants in this solicitation are federal funds, and no local match is required. Each grant includes a resolution of support from the local governing body to ensure community support.

Since 2005, MnDOT has awarded nearly $15.5 million in federal funds to communities to support Safe Routes to School. The majority of funding — $13.1 million — was awarded for infrastructure projects. The remainder is allocated for non-infrastructure items and activities. MnDOT has about $1 million left from the federal SAFETEA-LU authorization act to distribute in 2015. Safe Routes to School projects occur in all 50 states.

Funding opportunities for future grants is unclear. MnDOT and the state Legislature are currently discussing new ways to fund projects at the state level.

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