U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-08) and the state Department of Transportation today announced that four communities in the Eighth Congressional District will split over $717,000 in federal Safe Routes to School funding. Funding will be split between Montclair Township ($329,000), Clifton City ($263,000), Wayne Township ($110,000) and South Orange Village Township ($10,000).
"I applaud these communities for prioritizing pedestrian safety and encouraging students to walk or bike to school," stated Pascrell. "Walking to school isn't the same as it was years ago when more students walked or biked. Today's children are faced with different public safety and cultural challenges. Roads are congested with bigger, faster vehicles and schools are further from sprawling neighborhoods. This funding will go a long way to promote physical activity and reduce traffic congestion in our communities."
The purpose of the Federal Safe Routes to School (SRTS) Program is to address the safety issues, increased traffic congestion and air quality problems that result from fewer and fewer students walking or biking to school. The SRTS Program empowers communities to make walking and bicycling to school a safe and routine activity once again. The Program makes funding available for a wide variety of programs and projects, from building safer street crossings to establishing programs that encourage children and their parents to walk and bicycle safely to school.
"The Governor and I are committed to principles that promote the health and safety of our school children and the role of transportation in establishing initiatives to achieve that goal," stated NJDOT Commissioner Stephen Dilts. "The Department encourages and supports the establishment of transportation awareness and educational programs to promote walking and biking to school."
As a former member of the House Highways and Transit Subcommittee, Pascrell worked with his colleagues to successfully authorize a $612 million federal Safe Routes to Schools program in the 2005 federal transportation reauthorization bill. New Jersey was allocated $15 million over five years through this program.
Montclair will invest $204,000 in school route enhancement upgrades, $25,000 in school travel safety enforcement conduct and $105,000 in the school/community encouragement program
Clifton will invest $263,000 in curb and sidewalk improvements on Van Houten Avenue
Wayne will invest $100,000 funding in sidewalk construction on Garside Avenue and Harrison Road
South Orange will invest $10,000 in the South Orange School Enforcement and Education program
"I look forward to reauthorizing the Safe Routes to School program at a robust level in Congress again this year. I applaud Governor Corzine and Commissioner Dilts for working diligently with so many communities all across the state to put these federal dollars to work and prove this program's value in the Garden State," concluded Pascrell.