PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A total of $32.4 million will go towards 26 Oregon cities, as a part of the Oregon Department of Transportation’s Safe Routes to School project.

The Safe Routes to School program was launched to encourage children and their families to walk or bike to school, and to ensure the safety of those that do.

Eighty-three Oregon cities and counties applied for the project before ODOT reviewed the applicants based on the safety risks posed in their community, whether they considered the obstacles for students at low-income schools, and whether the project could be done within five years.

ODOT staff then conducted a “ground conditions review” for the top contenders. After reviewing and scoring the applicants, just 26 were chosen. According to ODOT, all 26 recipients are “Title 1 schools”, or schools where the low-income student population sits at 40% or more.

“We had another round of outstanding applicants requesting a total of $80 million,” Safe Routes to School Program Manager LeeAnne Fergason said. “All 83 of them addressed barriers to students walking and biking with needed safety improvements. So our Safe Routes Advisory Committee worked very hard to review and rank the proposals.”

Powell Butte Elementary School, Fairview Elementary School and Chenowith Elementary School are among the schools who will benefit from the 2023-2024 Competitive Construction Grant Program. Learn about the projects here.

Over the next several years, new sidewalks, crosswalks, bike lanes, streetlights and more will be constructed at the awardees’ schools.