The Safe Routes to School Program (SRTS) is a federal program of the United States Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration
(FHWA). It was created in 2005 by Section 1404 of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users Act,
referred to as SAFETEA-LU.
In 2012, Congress passed a new transportation bill: Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21). Under this legislation, SRTS has been combined with two other programs (Transportation Enhancements and Recreational Trails) under the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP). The New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) has elected to continue SRTS as a standalone federal-aid program under TAP. It is currently administered by NJDOT, in partnership with the state's three Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs): North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (NJTPA), the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) and the South Jersey Transportation Planning Organization (SJTPO).
The federal SRTS program provides funds to the states to substantially improve the ability of primary and middle school students to walk and
bicycle to school safely.
The purposes of the program are:
- to enable and encourage children, including those with disabilities, to walk and bicycle to school;
- to make bicycling and walking to school a safer and more appealing transportation alternative, thereby encouraging a healthy and active
lifestyle from an early age; and,
- to facilitate the planning, development and implementation of projects and activities that will improve safety and reduce traffic, fuel
consumption and air pollution in the vicinity (approximately two miles) of primary and middle schools (Grades K-8).
Each state administers its own program and develops its own procedures to solicit and select projects for funding. The program establishes
two distinct types of funding opportunities: infrastructure projects (the planning, design and construction of engineering improvements)
and non-infrastructure related activities (such as education, enforcement and encouragement programs).
New Jersey Safe Routes to School Program
As of October 2014, NJDOT has awarded more than $19 million in federal SRTS funds to 129 projects at 212 schools in 98 communities across New Jersey. Another $5 million has supported these local projects with statewide programs. More rounds of infrastructure grants and educational programs are planned to fulfill the goals of the SRTS Program.
The overall SRTS program is overseen by the SRTS Coordinator in the Office of Bicycle and Pedestrian Programs. The SRTS Coordinator is responsible for monitoring all aspects of the program. This includes managing the non-infrastructure program, participating in the SRTS infrastructure grant program solicitation and selection process and helping to ensure that state and federal requirements are met.
SRTS Infrastructure Projects
The federally funded SRTS Infrastructure Grant Program is administered by NJDOT's Division of Local Aid and Economic Development. It is operated as a competitive grant program in which proposals from applicants to develop and implement infrastructure projects are solicited and evaluated.
SRTS Non-Infrastructure Projects
The Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center (VTC), working closely with NJDOT, operates the New Jersey SRTS Resource Center (NJ SRTSRC) which provides services, training, coordination and technical assistance directly to regional planning organizations, schools and school districts, and local and regional governments.
In 2011, NJDOT implemented the New Jersey SRTS Non-Infrastructure Technical Assistance Program. This program is a cooperative venture involving New Jersey's eight Transportation Managment Associations (TMAs), the NJ SRTSRC and NJDOT. NJDOT provides federal funding, program administration and oversight; the NJ SRTSRC provides services, training, evaluation and technical assistance to the TMAs; and the SRTS Regional Coordinators at each of the TMAs proactively reach out to schools, local governments and other organizations to provide them with a variety of SRTS non-infrastructure services. Services include assistance with pedestrian safety assemblies, bicycle rodeos, walking school buses and Walk and Bike to School Day events.
As part of this program, all New Jersey municipalities and K-8 schools are eligible to receive free, non-construction related services. TMAs are also charged with prioritizing disadvantaged communities in their outreach efforts to ensure an equitable distribution of services.