City of Heath Receives $1 million grant for Safe Routes to School projects

By J.J. Smith. The City of Heath has just announced that it is a recipient of more than $1 million in funding over four years to be used for infrastructure improvements that will make it safer for Heath children to walk or bike to school.

The federal funding is awarded through the Texas Transportation Commission (TTC) for “Safe Routes to School” projects.

According to Heath Assistant City Manager Kim Dobbs, a total of $1,034,383 was awarded to the City for four projects that include  improvements around Cain Middle School, Amy Parks-Heath Elementary and Dorothy Pullen Elementary Schools.

A small portion of the funding, $13,800, will be used to educate students, parents and drivers about safe travel, she said.

“We are thrilled to be a recipient of funding for our Safe Routes to School projects,” said City of Heath Mayor John Ratcliffe. “Over 280 project applications were received by the Texas Department of Transportation and our community was extremely fortunate to receive 100 percent approval for the requested projects.”

“TxDOT reports that the number of children who walk and bike to school has declined significantly over the last 40 years,” he added. “The program goal of these projects will help our children and parents make healthier lifestyle choices that will have long-term positive impacts throughout our community.”

Dobbs said when TxDOT announced the program availability, Rockwall County Commissioner Lorie Grinnan helped bring the City of Heath, RISD and community members together to strategize, plan, and evaluate projects for submission.

The City of Heath completed the process with the grant application preparation and submittal.

The trail projects in Heath will require preliminary work including right of way acquisition, engineering and utility relocation. An estimated start date will be determined upon the City’s receipt of formal correspondence from the TTC regarding project timing and funding arrangements specific to Heath and the award.

“We want to thank the many people in our community who supported the City’s efforts to apply for this grant, and we congratulate City staff in our Public Works Department including Lisa Palomba, who worked hard to prepare a very detailed and successful application,” said Mayor Ratcliffe.

Safe Routes to School (SRTS) is a relatively new federal program which is designed to reduce traffic congestion, fuel costs, air pollution, safety issues and school bus trips so more children can walk and bicycle to school.

The program also seeks to improve their safety along the way reduce fuel consumption and air pollution near schools—all helping to create livable communities.

In 2005, the U.S. Congress passed the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU). Section 1404 of the transportation legislation designates $612 million in Federal transportation funds for the SRTS program.

The funds are distributed through each State’s department of transportation (DOT). The program also helps address other issues in the news including reduced school budgets for purchasing, operating, and maintaining schoolbuses; childhood obesity; and the need for community revitalization.

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1 Response for “City of Heath Receives $1 million grant for Safe Routes to School projects”

  1. Nancy R says:

    Thank you to all that helped us get this grant. My child rides his bike to school daily and the intersection of 740 and Smirl has always been a concern. My friends in Stoneleigh will also be happy that their children can ride their bikes to school. What a joy and freedom for the children of Heath to experience!

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