The Commonwealth of Massachusetts recently notified Harwich Elementary School and the Town of Harwich that they were one of only 14 projects across the state to be selected to receive a Safe Routes to School grant that will provide infrastructure improvements surrounding the school, including adding or rebuilding sidewalks, making intersections safer, and increasing accessibility. While the exact project cost will be determined later on as the project is scoped in more detail, the project application estimated a total cost of $685,000.
The Massachusetts Safe Routes to School Program is sponsored by Massachusetts Department of Transportation with funds from the Federal Highway Administration. Massachusetts Safe Routes to School emphasizes a collaborative, community-focused approach that fosters partnerships between advocacy groups, law enforcement, education leaders, and public health departments that all work together to promote safer routes for children to walk and ride bicycles to and from school. The SRTS grant provides infrastructure funds for sidewalk improvements, pedestrian and bicycling facilities, and traffic diversion improvements.
“This grant provides much-needed sidewalk and intersection improvements that surround our school,” says Harwich Elementary School Principal Mary Oldach. “We hope that the enhanced pedestrian experience will encourage more families to consider walking to school, and also provide expeditious exit routes during school safety drills.”
The project application was submitted with co-applicant Christopher Clark on behalf of the Town of Harwich.
“The state support of this project is tremendous,” says Chris Clark, Harwich Town Administrator. “It will allow the town to undergo a significant upgrade to the sidewalk network, enabling us to create appropriate ADA transitions at crosswalks and sidewalks, as well as widening the sidewalk network to 5 feet, which will allow for easier access and more effective snow clearing operations.”
Safe Routes to School school partners also receive year-round pedestrian and bicycle safety education instruction, as well as engagement initiatives tailored to meet each school’s health, safety, and environmental priorities. As a SRTS partner, HES will hold a Summer Safety Fair on June 1, from 3-5 p.m., featuring a bike rodeo, bike safety information, water safety tips, and more. This is a free event and the community is invited to attend.