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Group looking for safer student routes in District 833

County, city and School District 833 officials will work together to find safer routes for kids to bike or walk to school.

The goal is to find safe ways to get to Cottage Grove, Grey Cloud, Pullman, Red Rock, Royal Oaks and Liberty Ridge elementary schools and Cottage Grove Middle School.

South Washington County School leaders are working with Cottage Grove and Woodbury city officials, Washington County Engineer Wayne Sandberg and Kim Ball and Jean Streeter of the county's Public Health Department.

Though a federal Safe Routes to School planning grant, a Minnesota Department of Transportation consultant, who met with city and county officials and district principals for preliminary planning in March, will facilitate the process. The goal of the grants is to increase the number of kids walking or biking to school.

When children have the opportunity to walk or bike to school, they are healthier and more ready to learn, Ball said.

Since 2005, MnDOT has awarded $11.3 million in federal funds to communities to support safe routes to schools. The majority of the funding went to sidewalks and crosswalks but no money for additional infrastructure was available for this year.

Across the nation, SRTS programs have seen decreases of 20 percent to 60 percent in traffic around schools, according to the county.

Results of the planning process, including engineering and evaluation, will be used as a basis for the county, cities and district to apply for future grant money to build additional trails, sidewalks and bike lanes.

Judy Spooner
Judy Spooner is the longest-serving staff writer at the South Washington County Bulletin. Spooner, who covers education and features in addition to writing a weekly column, has been with the newspaper for over 30 years.
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