Mississippi Safe Routes to School State Network
Mississippi is one of seven jurisdictions participating in the Safe Routes to School state network project (network project), funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Mississippi has been a network state since 2010. The network project's goal is to advance state-level policy reform, resulting in the award and obligation of federal transportation funds, street-scale improvements and joint-use agreements.
The Mississippi network's action plan can be viewed here. You can follow activities of the Mississippi Safe Routes to School state network in our blog section and on the state-specific website; this site features meeting announcements and local success stories.
From 2005-2012, each state received federal funding specifically for Safe Routes to School projects via the federal transportation legislation SAFTEA-LU. Many states still have funds remaining from the Safe Routes to School program; see our State of the States quarterly tracking report to see whether this funding is still available in Mississippi. To learn more about federal funding for Safe Routes to School, read through the Five Steps to Federal Funding: A Brief Explanation of the Safe Routes to School Program Process. You can find additional resources in our national learning network too.
In July 2012, Congress passed a new transportation bill, MAP-21, which consolidated several bicycling and walking programs, including Safe Routes to School, into a new program called Transportation Alternatives. Starting in 2013, states have the option to continue running standalone Safe Routes to School programs or to have Safe Routes to School projects contend with other types of projects in a Transportation Alternatives competition.
Additional information on how Transportation Alternatives works is available in our National Policy section.
Managed by the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT), Mississippi's federally-funded Safe Routes to School program is the source for state and district contact details, federal Safe Routes to School funding amounts, Safe Routes to School applications and guidelines, and state Safe Routes to School program information.
Since 2006, projects totaling more than $10.9 million have been selected in Mississippi. Visit the Mississippi Safe Routes to School program website for more information.
There is a call for applications opened now until March 1, 2013. There is a maximum amount of $250,000 that may be requested. Guidelines and applications are online at www.mdottrafficsafety.com in the Safe Routes to School section. Look to the right on the Safe Routes to School page for guidelines and applications. If you are unable to access the application and guidelines, please contact Cookie Leffler at email@example.com or call 601-359-1454 for a hard copy.
Please note: The applications and guidelines are made available when a funding cycle is opened.
State Outreach Programs
Four statewide organizations—Safe Kids Mississippi, Mississippi State Department of Health, Mississippi Department of Education (MDE), and Bike Walk Mississippi (BWM) have been awarded funding and will offer various outreach programs statewide.
The MDE completed and added to its Health in Action online database K-8 lesson plans centered on the goals of SRTS and fulfilling the health instruction requirements for K-8 students. MDE has also developed and is administering a statewide Crossing Guard Training Program, complete with curriculum, training and approved equipment kits.
Bike Walk Mississippi (BWM) has contracted with MDOT in support of the SRTS program. BWM is helping with a quarterly newsletter and an education and encouragement guide that will offer ideas for these types of noninfrastructure activities based on MS examples to others in the state.
BWM organized the certification of 40 individuals in the state by the League of American Bicyclists who will then teach bicycle safety education in SRTS schools around the state.
Communities awarded funding are required to complete evaluations of their projects beginning with the collection of baseline data. They are required to complete the Student Travel Tally and the Parent Survey developed by the National Center for Safe Routes to School at the beginning and end of their award period and to provide the outcomes of these data collection tools to MDOT. The SRTS coordinator and District engineers designated LPA coordinators oversee all projects to evaluate the success of infrastructure projects and noninfrastructure programs.
If you would like to submit a success story for consideration, please email it to Jay Thompson.
Oxford, Mississippi: Celebrated Calendar Winners
The City of Oxford, Mississippi, after being awarded Safe Routes to School funding, instituted Walking/Biking Wednesdays in September 2008 at three elementary schools and one middle school. (The middle school was also the site of engineering improvements.) They have seen an increase in the number of participants despite challenges. The Safe Routes to School project coordinator places signs in the school yards on Tuesdays reminding kids and their parents to walk the next day. Information about the Walking Wednesday program is also posted on both the city and school district websites. Kids meet in designated areas each Wednesday. There, they meet up with the regular leader of the route and are introduced to the local celebrities of the week who walk with the kids.
These local celebrities have included University of Mississippi athletes and academic leaders whose job it is to talk with the walkers about their interests and future plans and provide advice if sought. Participants receive incentives each time they walk and bike. The incentives increase concurrently with the number of times walked.
Contact: Jeff Hallam, Ph.D., CHES
Professor, Founding Director, Center for Health Behavior Research
Amory, Mississippi: Awarded Grant to Lessen Traffic Volume
Two elementary and one middle school in Amory, MS are located within a 2-mile range of each other. It is a small town in which children "get on their bikes and ride all across town," says Carol Rogers, coordinator for School Health and a grant writer for the school distrist. However, due to roadside ditches along roadways leading to one of these schools, West Amory Elementary, children and their parents are forced to walk in the middle of the street. In 2009, the city was awarded a $643,484 Safe Routes to School infrastructure grant from the MS DOT to construct sidewalks to the school and reroute bus traffic. A five-year plan will ensure safer routes and crossroads will be constructed for students. Read more here
Madison, Mississippi Breaks Ground on Safe Routes Infrastructure
The Mississippi Department of Transportation broke ground the week of August 17, 2012 in Madison, MS on a new project to help children walk and bike to school a little easier.
MDOT hosted a groundbreaking ceremony to celebrate the beginning of the Madison Avenue Safe Routes to School project, which includes the construction of multi-use pathways, a new sidewalk, additional crosswalks and pedestrian signals, and new signage, all leading right up to the Madison Avenue Lower Elementary School.
Picayune, Mississippi Receives Safe Routes to School Grant
Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) Commissioner Tom King presented Picayune Mayor Ed Pinero with a check for $100,000 to renovate and establish safe sidewalks for students attending West Side School. The funds were part of an 80-20 grant program through which the City of Picayune will contribute $20,000 to $25,000 in matching funds. The city anticipates work to begin on this project within the next two months after bids are reviewed.
Below is a selected list of the major achievements of the Mississippi State Network since January, 2010. For more information about these achievements, please contact the state network organizer, Jay Thompson.
Promoting and Getting Complete Streets Statewide
Network memberss have been promoting complete streets by giving presentations, conducting webinars and creating more awareness among city and community leaders. The success is apparent. The cities of Columbus, Hernando, Oxford, Hattiesburg, Pascagoula, and Tupelo have adopted Complete Streets Ordinances or Resolutions.
Multi-Use Trail and Wide Paved Shoulder Resolution
With the MS Network’s input, MDOT’s Transportation Commissioners unanimously passed a resolution requiring the consideration of multi-use trails or wide-paved shoulders during the planning phases of all new and re-constructed highway facilities.
Getting Better Non-Motorized Infrastructure
The Network assists in advocating and promoting bicycle lanes and multi-use trails. As a result, some Mississippi municipalities such as Ridgeland, Madison, Hattiesburg, and Oxford continue to build bike lanes and multi-use trails. A total of 29 communities have received Safe Routes to School funding and the network will continue working with these communities to expand their non-motorized infratstructure.
Safe Routes to School Conference
The last annual Mississippi Safe Routes to School conference was held in 2011 with Mark Fenton speaking for the occassioin. There were over 135 participants that attended.
Low income Empowerment Initiative
Bike Walk Mississippi and the Mississippi Safe Routes to School Network will launch its pilot of the lower-income Empowerment Initiative. Since Mississippi is made of up of many rural and urban low income communities, this initiative will provide one-on-one consultation and assistance empowering citizens to build greater capacity and knowledge allowing them to more easily transform themselves into more livable communities. The pilot program will take place this fall in the Midtown community of Jackson, MS.
Find out which organizations in your state have pledged their support for the Safe Routes to School movement. If your organization isn't yet a partner affilate, we would love for you to join us; it's free! Find more info on joining here.
More info coming soon.