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Published on May 03, 2013

MnDOT Announces Safe Routes to School Grants

The Minnesota Department of Transportation announced the recipients of $3.8 million in federal grants for Safe Routes to School (SRTS) include three local groups.

“These projects will help communities increase opportunities for children to walk and bike to school,” said MnDOT Commissioner Charlie Zelle. “More students walking and biking means less traffic on the road and in front of schools, improving safety and promoting healthier kids.”

Funded by CentraCare Health Foundation, BLEND (Better Living: Exercise & Nutrition Daily) is a collaborative effort to reduce childhood obesity throughout Central Minnesota. BLEND is encouraging families to naturally burn calories by walking, biking, inline skating or skateboarding to school.

“We need to provide safe routes, including sidewalks and safe intersections,” said Jodi Gertken, BLEND coordinator. “BLEND has been working with our local school districts to help create Safe Routes to School. We are excited to receive word from MnDot that they are going to move this effort forward in a meaningful way.”

MnDOT announced the available grants in October 2012. It received 102 applications and funded 43 applications. The total amount requested was $15,451,103.

All Safe Routes to School grants in this solicitation are federal funds, and no local match is required. Each grant includes a resolution of support from the local governing body to ensure community support.

Since 2005, MnDOT has awarded nearly $15.5 million in federal funds to communities to support Safe Routes to School. The majority of funding — $13.1 million — was awarded for infrastructure projects. The remainder is allocated for non-infrastructure items and activities. MnDOT has about $1 million left from the federal SAFETEA-LU authorization act to distribute in 2015. Safe Routes to School projects occur in all 50 states.

Safe Routes to School 2013 grants include:

  • Planning - Funding to complete a Safe Routes to School plan to help analyze existing conditions, gather public input and identify potential infrastructure and non-infrastructure solutions at K-8 schools.
    • Rice, Benton County - one school
    • Sartell, Stearns & Benton counties - two schools
  • Infrastructure - Funding for education, encouragement, enforcement and evaluation activities.
    • BLEND received funds for five school in Stearns & Benton counties to hire a coordinator to implement education and enforcement activities, provide support for crossing guards and purchase supplies/materials for SRTS programs.
  • Infrastructure - Funding for improving the environment and infrastructure around the schools such as crosswalks and trails.
    • Sauk Rapids, Benton County – Construct sidewalks and improve crossings for Pleasantview Elementary.


BLEND (Better: Living Exercise & Nutrition Daily), works with schools, youth-serving organizations, local government and the medical community to raise awareness regarding the devastating health effects of childhood obesity. BLEND also supports and develops policies and systems that will increase daily physical activity and good nutritional choices for kids and families. This is done through public programming, community events and advocacy. BLEND is supported by the CentraCare Health Foundation. To learn more visit

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