Update from the Massachusetts Safe Routes to School Program
The Massachusetts Safe Routes to School program has expanded rapidly over the past year and is poised to surpass the 500 partner mark by the end of 2012. Currently, 485+ schools are participating in the program, serving 42 percent of communities throughout the Commonwealth, impacting more than 220,000 children annually.
Earlier this school-year, the Massachusetts Safe Routes to School program celebrated the unveiling of four newly completed infrastructure projects in the towns of Arlington, Lexington, Peabody and Stoneham. The total construction contract value for all four projects was $1.8 million and included infrastructure improvements such as providing new direct sidewalk connections with safer roadway crossings from nearby residential areas, new pedestrian flashing warning assembly, updated ramps, freshly painted crosswalks and the construction of a 10-foot wide multi-use path that will tie into the future extension of MassDOT’s Tri-Community Bikeway Project.
Infrastructure projects scheduled for completion during the 2012-2013 school year include improvements at schools in the towns of Amherst, Attleboro, Canton, Chelsea, Lowell, Reading and Scituate. Funded through the Federal Highway Administration, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation has allocated a total of $3.5 million to the Massachusetts Safe Routes to School Program for the 2012 fiscal year.
On May 2, the Massachusetts Safe Routes to School program celebrated Massachusetts Walk & Bike to School Day with 75,000 elementary and middle school students participating throughout the Commonwealth. For the upcoming school year, the Massachusetts Safe Routes team is looking forward to launching a Facebook group network for their partner schools and developing additional partnerships with local and regional organizations in order to combine resources that promote physical activity and healthy lifestyles for all children in Massachusetts. In March 2012, Cindy Coughlin, Safe Routes to School Coordinator at the Alice B. Beal Elementary School in Springfield Massachusetts, was awarded the Let’s Move! Physical Activity Champions of Change Award by the Obama Administration for developing creative and innovative methods to make physical activity (such as walking and bicycling to school) accessible, fun and sustainable in her community.