Case study | Transportation Engineering
Safe Routes to School Program Evaluation and Modification
Illinois Department of Transportation
Illinois Department of Transportation
$435,000 (Study Fee)
Estimated Completion 2017
Kaskaskia Engineering Group, LLC (KEG) was selected by the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) to work with the Bureau of Safety Engineering to evaluate the effectiveness of the Safe Routes to School (SRTS) Program in Illinois and to make recommendations for improvements to the program to maximize the program benefits.
In 2005, Congress passed legislation that established a National Safe Routes to School program to improve safety on walking and bicycling routes to school. The program also encourages children and families to walk and bike from home to school. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) administers the program funds. The SRTS funds can be utilized for both infrastructure (projects to improve the physical environment) and non-infrastructure projects (projects focused on education or enforcement). Through 2012, IDOT has received over $47 million in SRTS funds from FHWA. The Illinois SRTS program funds are available to government entities working in conjunction with school districts to construct or improve walking and bicycle routes to schools or to provide educational materials, such as programs to encourage school children to participate in the International Walk to School Day program.
KEG led the design team in the review of the existing SRTS materials that IDOT is using for the program, which include the SRTS website, application form, instructions, and other printed materials that are available by request from IDOT. The project team not only evaluated the IDOT materials but also reviewed SRTS programs in other states to make recommendations to IDOT for changes to the Illinois SRTS program. KEG also recommended the implementation of customized Illinois SRTS promotional items that can be provided to schools that are implementing a SRTS program. The project team reviewed the Illinois SRTS application form and proposed changes to incorporate the 2012 transportation bill, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21), as well as improving the applications to be easier for local agencies to complete while providing important information to assist IDOT and the SRTS application review team in their evaluations and ranking of projects to receive SRTS program funds.
KEG and the project team were also tasked by IDOT to develop resources for the SRTS applicants to utilize during the application process. The SRTS “Toolbox” provides support information to the SRTS applicants for utilization in completing the application. KEG developed a checklist of items that the SRTS applicants need to consider during the application. The SRTS Toolbox also contains some general construction cost estimating tools to assist the local agencies in developing construction costs for project implementation. The items included in the SRTS Toolbox were developed by working with both IDOT and the SRTS application review team, as well as IDOT Bureau of Local Roads and Streets (BLRS) staff in various Districts throughout the state to determine areas throughout the project process which seem to be common areas of concern, such as developing realistic construction costs, including items such as right-of-way or easement costs, and coordinating with other agencies who may be impacted by the project. KEG utilized an innovative website to collect project survey information for the project and this information was utilized to develop the SRTS Toolbox.
By working closely with the IDOT Bureau of Safety Engineering staff, KEG assisted IDOT in the evaluation of its SRTS program and made recommendations to improve its effectiveness. By utilizing an innovative tool to collect input from various SRTS participants – from applicants to those administering the project funds, the project team was able to quickly identify areas that needed improvement and address them through new support tools such as the IDOT SRTS Toolbox.
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