Tiffin to seek school travel grant funds

Safe Routes to Schools Committee met to discuss the School Travel Plan Wednesday.

North Central Ohio Regional Council of Governments Director John Davoli gave an overview of the project.

Safe Routes to School is a federally funded program, with 80 percent of resources coming from the federal government, and 20 percent funding through Ohio Department of Transportation.

NCORcog applied for the funding and is facilitated by the city of Tiffin, along with Calvert Catholic and Tiffin City Schools, the Seneca County General Health District and the Tiffin Police Department.

The schools participating include Washington K-1, Krout 2-3, Noble 4-5 and Calvert Elementary Schools. The plan is to prioritize unsafe areas for younger students in up to a two-mile radius.

Included in the application were parent surveys and teacher tallies to provide information for the need of the grant funding. Eleven other locations received funding in Ohio.

Upon completing the School Travel Plan, the city is to be able to apply for $550,000 from Safe Routes to School – $500,000 for infrastructure changes and $50,000 for education and enforcement.

ODOT District 2 Safe Routes to School Coordinator TJ Zura said ODOT hired TranSystems to complete the School Travel Plan. The plan then is to be reviewed by ODOT and, if accepted, NCORcog can apply for funding to complete the proposed projects.

TranSystems Consultant Project Manager David Shipps said as they develop the plan, they are to recommend how much funding the project could receive.

Included in suggested infrastructure changes were sidewalk improvements, intersection improvements and bike lanes.

Tiffin Mayor Aaron Montz said he would like to target areas that would benefit students and other residents of the city.

“We think there’s a lot of benefit to this that’s going to be non-student related,” he said. He spoke about incorporating bike activity as much as possible.

Montz also brought up the safety issues of South River Road, and how the street is too dark and narrow for students to travel despite being in the radius of several schools.

He suggested lighting and expanding the existing Benner Street trail and creating better crosswalks.

Councilman Tyler Shuff asked if funding could be used for the creation of a pedestrian-only bridge, and Shipps said it could be incorporated but the cost could exceed the total grant funding.

Councilman Jim Roberts suggested using the funding toward improving pedestrian crossings at railroads.

“I think that it’s very important that we don’t shove it aside,” he said.

Shipps said the plan submitted can include additional projects and the city could indicate what items could be funded through the SRTS grant.

The committee is to look into completing the plan, that is to be presented as a public hearing at city council Dec. 16.

The plan is to be submitted between January and March.