City receives funding for Safe Routes to School, loses out on Lawrence Loop backing

photo by: Mike Yoder

In this photo from Jan. 14, 2015, Amanda Bryson walks home from Woodlawn Elementary School with her daughter Arianna, 7. Bryson was also pulling a wagon with her 4-year-old twins, Sasha and Trenton.

Lawrence will receive about $190,000 in state funding this year to give students safe routes to Liberty Memorial Central Middle School and Woodlawn Elementary School.

But the city missed out on funding — for the second consecutive year — to complete the “Lawrence Loop,” or what’s intended to be a 22-mile shared-use path that would circle the city.

The Kansas Department of Transportation on Friday announced the alternative transportation projects across the state that are receiving awards this year. KDOT was looking to fund projects that are pedestrian or bicycle related; include preserving historic transportation structures; offer safe routes to school; or improve scenic and environmental assets.

KDOT received 48 applications and is granting nearly a total of $13 million to 23 cities, a school district and state agency to fund 25 projects.

Lawrence will receive $189,156 for the second phase of its Safe Routes to School program. The city will be obligated to make a 20 percent match of $47,289, for a total project cost of $236,445.

According to a city memorandum from November, Lawrence wants to use the money to install sidewalks and 10 crosswalk beacons surrounding Liberty Memorial Central Middle School, 1400 Massachusetts St., and Woodlawn Elementary School, 508 Elm St. in North Lawrence. Those were the first priorities settled on by a Safe Routes to School working group, school district staff and a survey of parents.

Lawrence was not granted the $600,000 it sought from KDOT this year to complete four sections of the Lawrence Loop. Had the project received funding, the city would’ve been required to pay a 20 percent match of $150,000, plus $100,000 in design costs, for a total project cost of $850,000.

The sections were: 750 linear feet from 29th Street to the Haskell Rail-Trail to the South Lawrence Trafficway Trail; 1,450 linear feet from Hobbs Park to 9 Del Lofts; 950 linear feet from Poehler Lofts to the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Depot; and 800 linear feet from City Hall to Constant Park.

When submitting the grant applications, City Engineer Dave Cronin ranked the Lawrence Loop project first because it was for a greater amount and in a more competitive funding category than the Safe Routes to School project, he told the City Commission in November.

The largest funding amount is going to the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism for the $3.8 million project of installing the Flint Hills Nature Trail. Besides Lawrence, seven cities and a school district were awarded money for Safe Routes To School initiatives.