Thurston one of 11 schools receiving Safe Routes to School funding

From AAPSNews Service

Ann Arbor’s Thurston Elementary School is one of 11 schools around the state to be awarded federal Safe Routes to School funding through the Michigan Department of Transportation for safety improvements and education programs.

The project has been fully funded at $160,840, according to information from state and county officials. SRTS funding is 100 percent federal, with no local match required.

Thurston is the first school in Washtenaw County to receive Safe Routes to School funds, according to Lily Guzman, health educator with the Washtenaw Department of Public Health who has served as the school’s SRTS coordinator. Carpenter Elementary School and Clague Middle School are also actively working on submitting applications by the end of this school year and other schools in the county are working on safe routes planning and programming, she said.

The Thurston SRTS committee worked closely with the Washtenaw County Department of Public Health on this project.  “Many thanks to Lily Guzman, our SRTS coordinator, for keeping us on track and not giving up,” said Thurston Principal Pat Manley. “Our parent participants Bret Springgay, Aimee Lahann and Nikole Bonevich worked many hours to map out, write and rewrite the proposal. I am so proud of our Thurston community.”

Thurston Elementary, in partnership with the city of Ann Arbor, will implement safety improvements and educational programming. Project components include:
•    Upgrading crosswalk pavement markings at five intersections and upgrading advance school warning signs at 33 locations within the Thurston neighborhood.
•    Building two new mid-block crosswalks with pedestrian refuge islands on Green Road north of Sugarbush Park and completing a 4- to 3-lane conversion.
•    Installing rectangular rapid flashing beacons at 2 locations on Green Road: One at Burbank/Burbank and one at new mid-block crosswalk north of Georgetown sidewalk extension.
•    Improving intersection sight distances on Green Road at Gettysburg, installing advance flasher treatment and separating sidewalk from road surface.
•    Hosting “Walk-to-School Days” and “Bike Rodeo” events.
•    Implementing a Mileage Club.
•    Delivering pedestrian and bicycle safety lessons in fall and spring.

“The Wellness Committee is thrilled to have AAPS as a leader in encouraging kids walking to school,” said Sara Aeschbach, director of Community Education & Recreation for the Ann Arbor Public Schools, who is also the facilitator of the district’ Wellness Policy Committee.

State Transportation Director Kirk T. Steudle said funding will enable schools to offer activities and make improvements that encourage students to walk and bicycle safely between home and school.

Safe Routes to School benefits children and communities by encouraging local partners to identify barriers and solutions to walking, bicycling and rolling to school, according to Candance (Lee) Kokinakis, SRTS senior director for the Michigan Fitness Foundation.

“When the distance is reasonable and the routes are safe, a physically active commute to school makes it easy for students to get regular exercise for good health,” she said.

MDOT’s role is to administer the federally legislated SRTS program. A total of $1.4 million in SRTS funding was awarded through MDOT, which partners with the Michigan Fitness Foundation to work with schools, communities, students, teachers and parents.

Funding for the SRTS program was established by Congress under the Safe, Accountable, Flexible Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users of 2005.

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