South Jacksonville Applying For Safe Routes to School Program

By Benjamin Cox on September 8, 2023 at 9:36am

The Village of South Jacksonville is hoping to improve village sidewalks and crosswalks with a statewide grant program administered annually by the Illinois Department of Transportation.

The Safe Routes to Schools program issues federal dollars to improve conditions for children, including those with disabilities, to walk or ride a bike to school.

The South Jacksonville Village Board unanimously approved a resolution authorizing the village’s financial commitment if they were awarded a grant last night.

Village Treasuer Mindy Olson says the resolution just means the village is ready to go: “This is coming from the engineers as part of the documents that we have to put together to send to the state to show that we are behind it and wanting to pursue it. That’s what this resolution is. We have to pass the resolution to be able to provide it to the state to show that we are wanting to do it and participate in the program.”

Village President Dick Samples says he’s not sure which routes that Hutchison Engineering will be choosing. He says that’s the next step in the process: “We really, at this present time, don’t know where all of these routes are. They will be coming from all over the Village of South Jacksonville heading toward the school. We can’t say they are going to come down specific streets, but I will keep [the public] informed of this.”

Olson says that the resolution is a necessary step in the process to show IDOT that the routes will be maintained and that the village is ready to pay for the work to be done and then be reimbursed: “I think it’s kind of like the sales tax in that you have the ability to go and fund the project until it’s reimbursed from the State of Illinois; also, if the State of Illinois is going to put the funds into creating these sidewalks, are we as a village going to participate and are we going to commit to keep them in good shape. They can put them in but then, are we going to not commit down the road to keep them from having trees growing through them, etc.? So this is what it means, it means we are in a place that we are able to maintain these things once they are finished.”

Olson says that there can be many partners with both the village and possibly South Elementary submitting their own grant applications to the program to improve infrastructure. According to the guidelines, all projects must be completed within a 2 mile radius of the school. The projects have a funding limit of $250,000.

Eligible projects can be sidewalk improvements, traffic/speed reduction devices and pavement markings, traffic control devices, pedestrian and bike crosswalks, on- and off-treet bike facilities, and secure bicycle parking.

Awardees are likely to be announced in April 2024.