School applies for Safe Routes to School grant
By Brian L. Gray
A grant application has been submitted by the city seeking money to help provide safer walking paths to the new elementary school in northwest Mandan.
The grant is called Safe Routes to School, which provides money to help build paths and pedestrian signs near schools to make walking to school safer for students.
The city submitted the grant on behalf of the Mandan School District, which put together the grant letter. Due to the grant application’s guidelines, only the city can submit the letter, and not the school district.
If approved, the grant will help to fund new crosswalk striping on 37th Avenue N.W., new crosswalk striping and curb ramps on 43rd Street N.W. and Old Red Trail, and a flashing beacon system at the intersection of Old Red Trail and 37th Avenue N.W. It will also help pay for 1,600 feet of new concrete sidewalk along those streets and intersections.
This is the first time that the school district has applied for a grant of this kind, and based on the location of the new school, safety features are in dire need in that area before the school is built.
“Currently, the city of Mandan has insufficient ways for students to safely travel to the new elementary school,” said Mandan School Board President Tim Rector. “If the sidewalks are not built before the school opens, children will not have a safe way to walk and bike to school. They will be forced to walk and bike on the street. This is especially true during the winter months when there is snow alongside the road.”
The grant, which is operated by the North Dakota Department of Transportation, exists as a way to promote more active lifestyles of students by encouraging them to walk or ride their bikes to school.
Superintendent Mike Bitz said that the community has responded positively to the district’s interest in applying for the grant, and that several letters and phone calls have been received in support of it. “We’ve been very appreciative of all the support we have received in regards to this,” he said.