Fontana–The City of Fontana was awarded a $1.9 million grant for the Safe Routes to School program, part of California’s 2017 Active Transportation Program.
The goal of the program is to improve the pathways of more than 5,000 students who walk or bike to eight schools on busy streets.
According to Fontana Media Contact Martha Guzman-Hurtado, the project will include the construction of new, Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant sidewalks on four segments of city streets, curb and gutter ramps, street striping, and traffic signs. The following Fontana locations will be impacted: Ramona Avenue between Juniper Avenue and Sierra Avenue; Alder Avenue between Baseline Avenue and Shamrock Avenue; and two sections along Locust Avenue, from Miller Avenue to Arrow Boulevard.
When the grant was announced, Fontana’s Director of Engineering, Ricardo Sandoval, shared, "Our goal continues to be to provide better mobility for everyone in Fontana."
Sandoval shared that the grant will improve the city's existing sidewalk infrastructure in several highly traveled areas, while promoting a community that is more walkable and bike-able.
Students at several area schools will benefit from the project, including those who attend Mango, Juniper, North Tamarind, Locust, Virginia and Ted J. Porter elementary schools, Alder Middle School, and Eric Birch High School.
Students are not expected to be the only beneficiaries. According to city officials, more than 25,000 residents who live within a half mile of the project sites are also expected to benefit as well. Construction is expected to begin in 2019.
According to the California Department of Transportation, the Safe Routes to School program has taken hold in communities throughout the United States, to increase the number of children who walk or bicycle to school. Funding these projects removes the barriers that prevent children from walking or biking, such as a lack of infrastructure, unsafe infrastructure, or lack of programs that promote walking and bicycling through education and/ or encouragement programs aimed at children, parents, and the community.
About thirty years ago, nearly 60 percent of children who lived within a two-mile radius of a school walked or bicycled there. Today, that number has dropped to less than 15 percent, resulting in worsening air quality and increased congestion around schools. In the same time frame, according to state officials, rates of overweight or obese children have increased from five percent thirty years ago to 20 percent today, contributing to a rise in preventable childhood diseases.
For more information regarding California’s Safe Routes to School programs visit http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/LocalPrograms/saferoutes/saferoutes.htm.