On Friday October 14, MassDOT officials joined students, parents, and Town and school officials for a ribbon-cutting to celebrate the completion of access and safety improvements that will better enable children to walk or bicycle to Dallin Elementary School in Arlington. The project was built by MassDOT using federal Safe Routes to School Program funds.
Dallin Elementary School is a partner in the MassDOT Safe Routes to School Program, which includes more than 400 schools in over 120 communities and works with students, parents, school staff, and local police to promote walking and bicycling to school. This program seeks to improve student health, reduce traffic congestion, and improve air quality.
The Dallin Elementary School project includes enhancements to slow vehicle traffic, improve street crossings, and upgrade sidewalks. Specific steps include new sidewalks with new curbing along Renfrew Street, George Street, as well as the building of a small section of sidewalk and road reconstruction along George Street extension at its intersection with Rhinecliff Street. Safe Routes to School funding has also financed new direct sidewalk connections and safer roadway crossings from nearby residential areas to the Dallin School, where previously no student crossways existed.
The Dallin School was one of the schools selected by the state for the Safe Routes to School pilot program nearly 10 years ago. Since that time the Dallin School has been an enthusiastic supporter of the program with well over 50 percent of the students routinely walking to school. The completed infrastructure improvements were developed by Transportation Advisory Committee (TAC) members, Town staff, and Dallin Safe Routes to School coordinators, in coordination with the state. The improvements are a culmination of a nearly 10-year effort by the Town, TAC, and school volunteers.
All of Arlington’s seven public elementary schools as well as the Ottoson Middle School are participants in the Safe Routes to School program. The TAC helps with oversight and has a liaison to each school and assists with each school’s Safe Route to School coordinator. The TAC will be looking to apply for Safe Routes to School infrastructure funding for other schools in Arlington.
The Safe Routes to School program is also a key component of the Healthy Transportation Compact, an initiative of the Patrick-Murray Administration’s historic transportation reform that promotes collaboration between the departments of transportation and public health.