Gov. Phil Bredesen announced Tuesday the Safe Routes to School funding for the City of Lebanon totaling $239,639 for improvements at Walter J. Baird Middle School.The Safe Routes to School program is a statewide initiative designed to make bicycling and walking to school a safer, more appealing and healthier alternative for students in kindergarten through 8th grade. “The Safe Routes to School program is a great opportunity for schools, communities and government officials to work together to promote a healthier lifestyle for Tennessee children,” Bredesen said. “The program helps create safer walking and biking environments for students and funds activities to encourage children and their parents to consider walking and biking to school for a more active lifestyle.”Lebanon will utilize the Safe Routes to School funds for sidewalk construction. Funds will also be used to provide a safety educational program and promotional activities to encourage walking and biking as a safe and healthy initiative. The grant is made possible through a federally funded program administered by the Tennessee Department of Transportation. “The Safe Routes to School program is an innovative program that integrates health, safety, traffic relief and environmental awareness under one umbrella,” said TDOT Commissioner Gerald Nicely. “Funds may be used for infrastructure projects and for other programs that directly support increased safety and encourage elementary and middle school children to walk and bike to school.”This year, TDOT provided more than $2.6 million in Safe Routes to School funds to 15 municipalities for projects across the state. Sen. Mae Beavers and Reps. Stratton Bone and Susan Lynn represent Wilson County in the Tennessee General Assembly and helped secure these funds. The projects awarded through these grants are funded through $10.8 million in federal made available through 2009. The funds were provided specifically for this purpose through SAFETEA-LU (Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity ACT: A Legacy for Users), the federal surface transportation program. The Safe Routes to School program is 100 percent federally funded and does not require a local match. The Safe Routes to School program is comprised of five elements referred to as the 5 E’s. The selection process was driven by the following:Engineering—creating operational and physical improvements to the infrastructure surrounding schools that reduce speeds and potential conflicts with motor vehicle traffic, and establishing safer and fully accessible crossings, walkways, trails, and bikeways. Education—teaching children about the broad range of transportation choices, instructing them in important lifelong bicycling and walking safety skills and launching driver safety campaigns in the vicinity of schools. Enforcement—partnering with local law enforcement agencies to ensue traffic laws are obeyed in the vicinity of schools (including enforcement pf speeds, yielding to pedestrians in crossings, and proper walking and bicycling behaviors), and to initiate community enforcement such as crossing guard programs.Encouragement—events and activities to promote walking and bicycling (bike rodeos). Evaluation—monitoring and documenting outcomes and trends through the collection of date both before and after the intervention. To learn more about the Safe Routes to School Program at TDOT, visit www.TDOT.tn.us/bikeped/saferoutes.htm or call Program Coordinator Diana Benedict at 253-2421.