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Safe Routes to School Kicks Off April 2021

by Colleen Paveglio
Friday, March 26, 2021
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March 26, 2021 - 

Through careful planning with area partners and community members, the City of Traverse City is readying the launch of the Safe Routes to School project with an anticipated start date in April 2021.  In 2011, the City Commission adopted a Complete Streets Policy that enables safe and convenient access for all legal road users, including pedestrians. The City has worked toward implementing sidewalk goals set by the City Commission by executing two tracks: a Safe Routes to School (SRTS) infrastructure grant program and an equity-based sidewalk gap and infill project, primarily targeted at Traverse Heights neighborhood, which was identified as underserved with pedestrian connectivity. 

Today, only 13% of kids actively travel to school, compared to 48% in 1969. Among those living within a 1.4 mile of school, just 56% walk or bike. Safe Routes to School is a movement that aims to make it safer and easier for students to walk and bike to school. Beyond the many health benefits of walking, studies have shown that walking to school can improve academic performance and reduce anxiety. The most successful SRTS programs incorporate the Six E’s: evaluation, education, encouragement, engineering, enforcement, and equity. Since 2005, Safe Routes to School Programs have benefited more than 14,000 schools in all 50 states.  

In 2018, the City was awarded with a more than $2 Million grant for the SRTS initiative. “Creating safe pedestrian connections for our youth and residents within the City can result in happier and healthier lifestyles. We are fortunate to have been awarded a significant grant toward the Safe Routes to School initiative to provide such amenities to our community and further our journey toward a more walkable community,” says City Planner Shawn Winter.  

Partners on the project include TART Trails, Norte, Northwestern Michigan College, Grand Traverse County, Garfield Township, Grand Traverse County Road Commission, Michigan Fitness Foundation, and Michigan Department of Transportation. The City worked with four school districts including Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School District, Traverse City Area Public Schools, Grand Traverse Area Catholic Schools, and Trinity Lutheran Schools to identify ten k-8 schools that would benefit from 3.5 miles of trail and sidewalk expansion. School partners include:

  • TBAISD New Campus School- 1100 Silver Drive
  • TBAISD Oak Park Campus-301 S. Garfield Ave
  • TCAPS Montessori School at Glenn Loomis- 1009 Oak Street
  • TCAPS Willow Hill Elementary-1250 Hill Street
  • TCAPS Central Grade School- 301 W. Seventh Street
  • TCAPS Eastern Elementary School- 1600 Eastern Avenue
  • TCAPS Traverse Heights Elementary- 933 Rose Street
  • TCAPS West Middle School- 3950 Silver Lake Road
  • GTACS Immaculate Conception Elementary Schools School- 218 Vine Street
  • Trinity Lutheran School- 1003 S. Maple Street

“City staff has worked with area partners, schools, and community members for a number of years to bring the Safe Routes to School initiative to fruition. Providing access for all ages and abilities through sidewalk and trail connectivity has been a focus of the City Commission and will bring numerous benefits to our residents,” says Traverse City Mayor Jim Carruthers.

The Safe Routes to School project will be a phased approach throughout spring and summer 2021. To learn more about Safe Routes to School and the City’s Sidewalk Gap and Infill project, including project updates, visit https://www.traversecitymi.gov/sidewalk.asp