MassDOT’s Safe Routes to School program funded $450,000 in infrastructure improvements to encourage safe, sustainable transportation
LOWELL (Friday, November 30, 2012)- Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) officials joined City of Lowell Mayor Patrick Murphy, Senator Eileen Donohue, Representative Thomas Golden, students, parents and school officials today for a ribbon cutting to celebrate the completion of pedestrian access and safety improvements surrounding the McAuliffe Elementary campus. The project was made possible by MassDOT using federal Safe Routes to School program funds.
“MassDOT continues to be a national leader in building a transportation system that is sustainable, greener and healthier, setting a goal to triple the share of walking and bicycle travel,” said MassDOT Secretary and CEO Richard A. Davey. “Providing federal infrastructure funding through the Safe Routes to School program enables families to walk and bicycle together and will assist MassDOT in accomplishing our mode shift objectives.”
McAuliffe Elementary is a School Partner in MassDOT’s Safe Routes to School program, which serves over 500 elementary and middle schools in 160 communities throughout the Commonwealth. School Partners receive year-round pedestrian and bicycle safety education instruction as well as engagement initiatives tailored to meet each school’s physical fitness, safety and environmental priorities.
Since joining Safe Routes to School in 2008, McAuliffe teachers and parents have collaborated with MassDOT to address neighborhood safety barriers for students who must walk or bicycle to school. Additionally, Safe Routes to School has been an integral component of anti-idling campaigns to limit the concentration of emissions and pollution in the environment surrounding the school. MassDOT’s completed infrastructure will not only benefit children who attend the McAuliffe School, but also students at the Robinson Middle School as the schools are adjacent to one another. Education and physical activity initiatives will therefore serve multiple generations of Lowell families.
Project highlights include: 1400 feet of new sidewalk along the entrance and exit driveways of the McAuliffe School, five foot wide bike lanes at the entrance and exit driveway, new ADA accessible wheelchair ramps, pavement markings, new traffic and pedestrian warning signs, as well as minor drainage modifications. The new and enhanced infrastructure significantly improves pedestrian access throughout the McAuliffe school zone and will support the community’s participation in the Safe Routes to School program.
The Patrick-Murray Administration through MassDOT engaged an on-call team of school engineers, planners, and bicycle/pedestrian experts to plan, design, and build targeted infrastructure improvements that enhance student access to walking and bicycle paths so that may increase their physical activity. These experts analyze current travel patterns and conditions, identify safety problems, and work with school officials and community leaders to design and construct solutions to reduce traffic speeds and improve pedestrian and bicycle access.
The Massachusetts Safe Routes to School program distinguishes itself from other state’s efforts by providing a central source of Safe Routes services to all interested schools in Massachusetts. MassDOT’s Safe Routes to School model of inclusiveness emphasizes a collaborative, community-focused approach that fosters partnerships between advocacy groups, law enforcement, education leaders and public health departments. This broad foundation of resources embeds the Safe Routes to School program into the culture of every participating community.
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 and Facebook at www.facebook.com/massdotinfo.
To find out how your school can participate, contact Samantha Fonseca-Moreira, the Statewide Safe Routes to School Coordinator firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.mass.gov/massdot/saferoutes