HOISINGTON — Hoisington residents will soon have new, improved city sidewalks for walking or strolling through the Safe Routes to School Plan, which the city council approved at its regular meeting on Monday. The SRTS provides $250,000 in grant money to improve sidewalks and provide ADA sidewalk ramps.
“It took a lot of folks working together,” said City Manager Jonathan Mitchell. A SRTS committee of school officials, law enforcement, parents, city and residents devised the plan. In addition, the school district and the city combined finances to pay the $25,000 engineering fees.
Mitchell said that it was rewarding to see the project move forward.
The city first applied for the grant in the fall of 2008. The SRTS committee has held several activities to encourage walking. This has included a bicycle rodeo, a walk to school day and a Safe Routes Booth at the school carnival. Also, now that the plan has come to fruition, the school will promote walking and wellness in physical education classes, according to Superintendent Bill Lowry.
The grant was received through the Kansas Department of Transportation. Cities receiving Phase II funding for infrastructure improvements includes Cheney, Emporia, Garden City, Girard, Hoisington, Lansing, Leavenworth, Lyons, Mulvane, Ottawa, Parsons, Wellington and the Unified Government of Kansas City, Kan. and Wyandotte County.
The program, which was created in 2005, has several purposes:
•Enable and encourage children, including those with disabilities, to walk or bicycle to school;
•Make walking or biking to school safe and appealing;
•Facilitate projects that will improve safety and reduce traffic, fuel consumption and air pollution in the vicinity of schools.
“Obesity rates among children have more than doubled in the past 20 years,” said Secretary of Transportation Deb Miller. “It’s probably not just a coincidence that only 15 percent of all school trips are made by walking or bicycle.”