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State committee setting rules for Safe Routes to School funding wants your input

Walking and biking to Beach Elementary in north Portland.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

This article is by Portland resident Kari Schlosshauer. She’s the Pacific Northwest senior policy manager for the Safe Routes to School National Partnership.

Last spring, House Bill 2017 passed in the Oregon Legislature, dedicating $10 million annually for Safe Routes to School infrastructure, increasing to $15 million annually in 2023. The purpose of the funding is to build projects within a one mile radius of schools to make it safer and easier for students to walk and bicycle to school. Following HB 2017, the Oregon Department of Transportation formed a Rulemaking Advisory Committee (RAC) to amend the Oregon Safe Routes to School Rule. The purpose of the committee is to align the rule with new funding made available by recent state legislation, and consider how infrastructure funding for Safe Routes to School projects should be structured.

Here’s what the rulemaking committee is working on:

HB 2017 requires a 40 percent cash match for eligible projects. This may be reduced to 20 percent for projects near Title I schools, in School Safety Corridors, or in Small Communities.

The RAC’s job is to develop an ongoing oversight process and determine criteria for which projects can be funded. One of their key roles is to establish program definitions, including:

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Additionally, the RAC is disussing program design options, overarching funding targets for social equity and rural communities to guide the allocation of funds, and a 1 percent fund for administrative costs and technical assistance.

Here are the two program options currently on the table:

Program Design Option 1: funding shared among three programs

Program Design Option 2: funding shared among two programs

What are your thoughts?

We want to hear from you! What are your thoughts on what kind of plan should be eligible? What is your reaction to the 40 percent cash match requirement? What’s missing? What sounds great? If you have ideas for how this program should be set up to reach the most students, please share them with us. You can email me at kari [at] saferoutespartnership [dot] org and I’ll share your feedback with the committee at our next meeting on February 13th. We welcome comments on any aspects of the program.

Additionally, all RAC meetings are open to the public and have options for public testimony, and there will be a 21 day minimum public comment period and three public hearings after the draft Rules are released in spring 2018. Learn more about the new Safe Routes to School program on the ODOT’s official website.

— Kari Schlosshauer, on Twitter at @SafeRoutesPNW

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