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For Immediate Release: 10/19/2011
CONTACT: MassDOT Press Office
(617) 973-8472

Patrick-Murray Administration Celebrates School Access and Safety Improvements in Stoneham

Safe Routes to School Enhancements Help Students at Central Elementary

STONEHAM - October 19, 2011- MassDOT officials today joined students, parents, and city and school officials in celebrating the completion of access and safety improvements that will better enable children to walk or bicycle to Central Elementary School in Stoneham.  The project was built by MassDOT using federal Safe Routes to School Program funds.

“Today, we recognize the Safe Routes to School Program and its positive impact on the lives of students at Central Elementary,” said MassDOT Secretary and CEO Richard Davey. “This initiative is a critical part of MassDOT’s commitment to making our students healthier and roads safer by encouraging the use of healthy and sustainable transportation options."

Central Elementary School is a partner in the MassDOT Safe Routes to School Program, which includes more than 400 schools in over 120 communities and works with students, parents, school staff, and local police to promote walking and bicycling to school.  This program seeks to improve student health, reduce traffic congestion, and improve air quality.

As a Safe Routes partner, Central Elementary is provided with education and encouragement activities to increase bicycling and walking activity amongst its students. Schools that partner with MassDOT to offer these are also eligible for federal funding to build infrastructure projects specifically targeted at helping children get to school safely and conveniently.

The Central Elementary School project will slow vehicle traffic, improve street crossings, and upgrade sidewalks, with enhancements including new sidewalks and curbing.  New sidewalks with new curbing along Central Street and an extension of the existing sidewalk at the school entrance have been completed.  MassDOT’s team of school engineers, planners, and pedestrian experts have also initiated reconstruction for the existing school exit driveway to allow construction of a 10-foot wide multi-use path along the north side of the driveway to connect this new road with a future extension of MassDOT’s Tri-Community Bikeway Project.

MassDOT has engaged an on-call team of school engineers, planners, and bicycle/pedestrian experts to plan, design, and build targeted infrastructure improvements that enhance access to the Commonwealth’s elementary and middle schools.  These school access experts analyze current travel patterns and conditions, identify safety problems, and work with school officials, parents, and community leaders to design and construct solutions developed to reduce traffic speeds and improve pedestrian and bicycle access to schools.

The Safe Routes to School program is also a key component of the Healthy Transportation Compact, an initiative of the Patrick-Murray Administration’s historic transportation reform that promotes collaboration between the departments of transportation and public health. Through the Health Transportation Compact, the Patrick-Murray Administration is able to adopt best practices, increase efficiency, and achieve positive health outcomes through the coordination of land use, transportation, and public health policy. Safe Routes to School enables direct collaboration between the Patrick-Murray Administration and the Commonwealth’s schools and communities to promote walking and bicycling transportation as fun, safe, and sustainable. 

Safe Routes to School is federally-funded and administered by the MassRIDES travel options program on behalf of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.  To find out how your school can participate, contact Rebecca Cyr at rebecca.cyr@state.ma.us or visit www.mass.gov/massdot/saferoutes.

For transportation news and updates visit MassDOT at our website: www.mass.gov/massdot, blog: www.mass.gov/blog/transportation, or follow MassDOT on twitter at www.twitter.com/massdot.