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Northampton Safe Routes to Schools Project, September 13, 2010 The Patrick-Murray Administration today announced completion of access and safety improvements around the Jackson Street School in Northampton, representing the first school access and safety improvement in Massachusetts to be completed based on recommendations of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation's Safe Routes to School program. MassDOT representatives joined students, parents, and city and state officials in a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the project, funded through the Massachusetts Works program and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The Commonwealth's Safe Routes to School Program which works with students, parents, school staff and local police in over 100 Massachusetts communities and more than 300 schools to promote walking and bicycling to school.  This program seeks to improve students' health, reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality in Massachusetts communities. Because of its participation in the program, the Jackson Street School became eligible for infrastructure projects specifically targeted to helping children get to school more safely and conveniently.

The Jackson Street School project includes several measures to slow vehicle traffic, manage street crossings and improve sidewalk conditions. Specific enhancements include constructing raised crosswalks leading to the school, narrowing the school driveway to reduce turning radius at the curb, reconstructing sidewalks between a heavily used bikeway and the school and constructing a ramp from the bikeway to the reconstructed sidewalk.

The Patrick-Murray Administration, through MassDOT, has engaged an on-call team of school engineers, planners and bicycle/pedestrian experts to plan, design and construct targeted infrastructure improvements that enhance access to the Commonwealth's elementary and middle schools.  These school access experts analyze current travel patterns and conditions, identify safety problems and work with school officials, parents and community leaders to design and construct solutions developed to reduce traffic speeds and improve pedestrian and bicycle access to schools. MassDOT currently has four other Safe Routes to School access and safety improvement projects entering construction, seven in design and 37 receiving planning and engineering assessments of their needs.

The Safe Routes to School program is also a key component of the Healthy Transportation Compact, an initiative of the Patrick-Murray Administration's historic transportation reform that promotes collaboration between the departments of transportation and public health to adopt best practices, increase efficiency and achieve positive health outcomes through the coordination of land use, transportation and public health policy. Safe Routes to School enables direct collaboration between the Commonwealth and schools and communities to promote walking and bicycling transportation as fun, safe and sustainable.

Safe Routes to School is federally-funded and administered by the MassRIDES travel options program on behalf of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.  To find out how your school can participate, contact Jennifer Solomon at jennifer.solomon@state.ma.us or visit Safe Routes on the web

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