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MnDOT announces Safe Routes to School grants

ST. PAUL -- Seven Safe Routes to School planning grants have been awarded to west central Minnesota schools by the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

The grants have been awarded to Appleton/Milan, Benson, Dawson, Granite Falls, Madison, New London and Willmar.

The program seeks to remove obstacles that are keeping students from walking and biking to school. The planning grants help schools complete a plan by analyzing existing conditions, gathering public input and identifying infrastructure and non-infrastructure solutions for K-8 schools.

Federal funding provides the grants, which this year total $768,000.

The grants will support planning efforts at 70 schools in 35 communities. MnDOT has also awarded implementation grants for 22 schools in nine communities.

Implementation grants help with education, encouragement and evaluation of the plans.

"These projects will help communities increase opportunities for kids to walk and bike to school," MnDOT Commissioner Tom Sorel said in a news release. "More kids walking and biking means less traffic on the road and in front of schools, improving safety and promoting healthier kids."

All Safe Routes to School grants use federal funds, and no local match is required. Each grant includes a resolution of support from the local governing body to ensure community support. Grants for infrastructure projects, such as sidewalks and crosswalks, were not available this year.

Since 2005, MnDOT has awarded $11.3 million in federal funds to communities to support Safe Routes to School. The majority of funding -- $9.9 million -- was awarded for infrastructure projects. The remainder is allocated for non-infrastructure items and activities. Funding for Safe Routes to School is available in all 50 states.

More information on Safe Routes to School is available at