Two local school districts will be receiving more than $365,000 to make the route to school a little safer through grants from the Ohio Department of Transportation.
The village of Beverly has received $185,000 for Beverly-Center Elementary School while Lowell has received $500 for Lowell Elementary.
Marietta has received $170,000 for infrastructure projects at the city's three elementary schools and middle school as well as $10,000 for non-infrastructure projects. Putnam Elementary is outside of city limits and not included.
The Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program has awarded a total of $16 million to 46 local communities for 2012, with those funds to help make it safer for students who walk or ride a bicycle to school.
"It's nice for the city and the school system to provide safer access to our school buildings," said Marietta Board of Education President Greg Gault.
This year is the third year that Beverly has benefited from the grant.
Safe Routes to School program
Marietta was awarded $170,000 for infrastructure projects and $10,000 for non-infrastructure projects to help make it safer for students to walk or ride a bicycle to school.
Lowell Elementary School received $500.
Beverly was awarded $185,000 for infrastructure projects at Beverly-Center Elementary School.
The grant is administered by the Ohio Department of Transportation, which gave out $16 million to 46 local communities.
Source: Ohio Department of Transportation
On the web
National Safe Routes to School information: http://www.saferoutesinfo.org/
Ohio Safe Routes to School information: http://www.dot.state.oh.us/Divisions/Planning/SPPM/MajorPrograms/SafeRoutes/Pages/default.aspx
Previous projects approved for SRTS funding include construction of sidewalks on Ullman Street and Mitchell Street. The 2012 grant will be used to install sidewalks along Beverly Cemetery and Park Street, said Beverly Mayor Rex Kenyon.
"It is a very good program," Kenyon said. "It helps replace and repair and put in new sidewalks so (students) can get to school without walking in the street."
Marietta has a host of projects planned for its first SRTS grant, said City Engineer Joe Tucker.
The city has prioritized a list of projects for Harmar, Washington and Phillips Elementary schools as well as Marietta Middle School.
Among the first projects for the grant is the installation of curb extensions at the intersection of Fourth and Washington streets by Washington Elementary.
Those extensions will be similar to what was installed on Front Street near the Butler Street intersection, where the curbs extend out to where the edge of parking begins, Tucker said.
"What that does is it gets the pedestrians out before they cross into the line of traffic," Tucker said. "(Students) are out where the drivers can see them. They're not hidden behind parked vehicles."
At Marietta Middle School, the city hopes to begin installing concrete median islands to help control the flow and pattern of traffic.
During the hours when students are picked up or dropped off for school, the area becomes congested, Tucker explained.
Construction on the Marietta projects is expected to begin in 2013, with preliminary engineer designs to begin this summer, Tucker said.
Beverly's sidewalk construction by the cemetery and on Park Street is expected to begin in 2014. Work on the Ullman Street sidewalks should begin this summer, Kenyon said.
Both the city and village plan to apply for the yearly grants again next year.
According to ODOT, there were 11,734 bicycle and pedestrian accidents near kindergarten-through-eighth-grade schools in the state between 2008 and 2010. Included in that accident total are 244 fatalities and 7,350 injuries.
Combating those numbers and making it safe for students to walk or ride a bicycle is of the utmost importance to city officials, they said.
"We want to encourage kids to walk and ride their bikes to school instead of being driven to school and dropped off. It's healthier, and it reduces the number of cars," Tucker said.