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Worcester

Worcester

Patrick Administration officials today joined students, parents and local leaders to celebrate the completion of three pedestrian access and safety improvement projects in Massachusetts. Completion of the projects coincides with International Walk to School Day (iWalk), when thousands of students walk or bike to school at more than 275 Massachusetts schools.

MassDOT hosted iWalk ribbon-cutting ceremonies at the Dolbeare Elementary School in Wakefield, the Elm Park Community School in Worcester and the Silvio O. Conte Community School in Pittsfield. The three projects totaled nearly $1.3 million and featured sidewalk and driveway safety improvements, granite curbing, new signage, the installation of push button activated pedestrian signals and indicators, ADA compliant upgrades, new pavement markings to accommodate bike shoulders and the installation of bike racks, among other modifications and enhancements. The projects varied in their improvements based on the needs of the respective school zones and local communities.

“These investments encourage young people to be safe, active and healthy in their choice in transportation,” said Governor Deval Patrick. “Massachusetts continues to create and enhance infrastructure in our local communities throughout our roadways, bridges and on multi-use paths to accommodate our ever-growing communities.”

International Walk to School day is an annual event hosted in the Commonwealth by MassDOT’s Safe Routes to School Program, which works with more than 660 partner schools in 171 communities to promote walking and bicycling to school in order to improve students’ health, reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality in Massachusetts. The event began in 1997 with a single school, and continues to steadily grow each year, with new events making up 44 percent of this year’s count. Last year, Massachusetts came in third place for most registrations in the country.

Pittsfield

Pittsfield

“At MassDOT, we are committed to ensuring students safety as they commute to and from their schools,” said MassDOT Secretary and CEO Richard A. Davey. “Our Safe Routes to School Program allows us to make targeted bike and pedestrian improvements that encourage students to walk or bike to their classes. MassDOT is thrilled to have been able to provide a variety of enhancements to these three schools and International Walk to School Day is the perfect time to formally celebrate these improvements.”

Construction of the iWalk projects was managed by MassDOT with funds from the Federal Highway Administration and support through the Safe Routes to School Program. Upon assessment of the projects, MassDOT, Safe Routes to School and a team of engineers worked together with school and community officials to determine neighborhood safety barriers for students who are able to walk or bicycle to school.

“Massachusetts is unique in that we provide our technical resources statewide which means that any school partnered with our Safe Routes to School Program can participate in our call for infrastructure applications which are issued annually,” said Massachusetts Safe Routes to School Statewide Coordinator, Erin Reed. “Additionally, our initial walking assessments are available to all of our partner schools and can really help to identify the safest and most accessible routes for students walk or bike to school.”

The Safe Routes to School model of inclusiveness emphasizes a collaborative, community-focused approach that fosters mutual partnerships between advocacy groups, law enforcement, education leaders and public health departments that all work together to promote safer routes for children to get to school. Participating schools may also qualify for financial support for improvements to sidewalks and other infrastructure surrounding the schools. The program serves more than 660 elementary and middle schools in over 180 communities throughout the Commonwealth. School partners 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.

To find out more, contact Rebecca Cyr at 857-368-8657 or Rebecca.Cyr@state.ma.us or visit www.Mass.gov/MassDOT/SafeRoutes.

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