DIXON – The city won a $200,000 Safe Routes to School grant to make safety improvements near Reagan Middle School.
The federal Safe Routes to School program reimburses projects that aim to make areas more walk- or bike-friendly for students going to and from school, and funds are administered by the Illinois Department of Transportation, which released the list of grant winners Tuesday.
The city and School District started talks about partnering for the grant in the summer because of safety concerns with students crossing at Division Street and South Galena Avenue, and the council and the district agreed to split the cost of having a grant writer apply for the grant in November.
The improvements will include new flashing crossing and speed signs as well as upgraded street markings and sidewalk repairs. The flashing will occur when students are present.
“We’re really excited about winning the grant and what it will do for safety of the kids going to Reagan Middle School and the school complex,” City Manager Danny Langloss said.
There’s a lot of traffic in that area, and the school resource officer and crossing guards have reported many near-misses, Langloss said.
Sidewalk improvements are tied into the city’s street improvement plans for Division Street, but the project timeline still is being determined.
In addition to the $200,000 for infrastructure-related improvements, the city also received a $10,500 grant to go toward non-infrastructure work including a crossing guard training program, educational materials, a community training workshop and data gathering.
Forreston in Ogle County also received a Safe Routes grant of $179,590 for similar improvements at the junior high and elementary schools, while DePue in Bureau County got $200,000 for new sidewalks in the district.
“These projects will allow more of our students to safely walk or bike to school and will make our communities safer and healthier places to live,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said in a news release Tuesday.
Go to saferoutespartnership.org or idot.illinois.gov for more information on the Safe Routes to School grant program.