Southfield receives $600,000 Safe Routes to School grant for sidewalk improvements

August 19, 2016

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The city of Southfield was awarded a $600,000 Safe Routes to School (SRTS) grant as part of MDOT’s Transportation Alternative Program (TAP) for sidewalk installation and repairs near three local schools. The Safe Routes to School program creates safe walking and biking routes for children, including those with disabilities, to bicycle and walk to and from school.

“This grant is an opportunity to make walking and bicycling to school safer and more accessible for children, including those with disabilities, as well as other area pedestrians,” commented Mayor Kenson Siver. “These sidewalk improvements will also benefit Southfield’s growing Orthodox Jewish community who walk to synagogue on Sabbath. Further, this grant will help to increase the number of children who choose to walk or bicycle to school while enhancing the community’s overall health, well-being and quality of life.”

The city of Southfield, with support from the city of Oak Park and Road Commission of Oakland County, will use the funds to improve pathways near Thompson K-8 International Academy, Yeshiva Beth Yehuda, and Beth Jacob. The grant funds will be broken up into five priorities, resulting in new sidewalk infill on Southwood from 10 Mile Road to Lincoln Road on both sides, Sherfield from Kingshire to Pierce on both sides, Fairfax from 10 Mile Road to Goldwin on both sides, as well as new crossings with a pedestrian refuge island at 10 Mile Road west of Fairfax and 11 Mile and Fairfield Roads east of Fairfax. The new 10 Mile Road crossing will have enhanced signals, while the 11 Mile crossing will feature a HAWK signal.

“There was a concern in the community that students and pedestrians were not able to safely walk or bike to school due to the lack of sidewalks,” stated Southfield Treasurer, Irv Lowenberg, who was instrumental in securing the grant funding. “I am pleased that we will be able to implement an effective program that will improve pedestrian safety at no cost to residents.”

In addition to the infrastructure improvements, Thompson K-8 International Academy will implement a bike and pedestrian educational program for older students, as well as a biking Wednesday program, a buddy program and a corner captain program. Yeshiva Beth Yehuda and Beth Jacob will focus on bike and pedestrian education, as well as host a walking school bus and implement a buddy program for children to walk to and from school.

The Transportation Alternatives Program is a competitive grant program that uses federal transportation funds designated by Congress for specific activities that enhance the intermodal transportation system and provide a safe alternative transportation process. Approximately $17 million is available annually through a competitive grant process administered by the Michigan Department of Transportation Office of Economic Development.