With the new school building opening in fall of 2014, Wells Active Living Coalition partnered with United South Central (USC) to successfully apply for MNDOT infrastructure grant that will support safe routes to school. The primary focus of the infrastructure grant was to safely connect the community with the new school site located on the edge of the community. The grant, amounting to $262,086 will include new sidewalks and a rapid rectangular flashing beacon (RRFB) which will help students safely cross State Highway 22. Partnerships with the city, Region 9, MNDOT and community entities were essential for success.
The grant infrastructure is scheduled for 2015, which required the committee to meet and develop a temporary SRTS plan to safely get students to the new schools until the improvements are made. The committee, which includes the city administrator and school superintendent, brainstormed potential improvements. A plan was developed which identified safe routes (coined Rebel Routes in honor of the USC Rebels) to the new building. The committee worked with the city council to adopt a no parking ordinance during school arrival and dismissal times. Information was disseminated to home owners along the routes about SRTS and the plan for safety improvements for students. A bike lane was striped along the route, signage was installed and Rebel Route was stenciled along the route.
Wells Active Living Coalition budgeted $2,000 of SHIP funding to use towards Safe Routes to School. With that money, $1600 was used on signage and stencils. The city donated the paint, and the map of rebel routes that is displayed in the school office. Starting the first day of school, the Wells Lion’s Club volunteered to provide crossing guards before and after school to encourage parents to allow their children to walk, as well as help slow down traffic until we receive the rapid rectangular flashing beacon (RRFB).
The committee provided a plethora of education and encouragement to the community to utilize the Rebel Routes, which included information in the local newspaper, flyers for families and a booth set up at the school Open House to promote the program. Students have been taking advantage of the route, and the buses that are currently making a couple stops in town, may be discontinued in the future. The SRTS committee, along with multiple volunteers and community members, has proven to invest interest and value into students walking to school safely.