The last thing parents and commuters want to see on the way to work is traffic choked with school buses or kids running to catch a bus... it's a recipe for disaster.

ODOT is investing millions now to make sure kids stay safe. They say they're expecting another busy round of 'Safe Routes to School (SRTS)' applications, with $4 million going to schools across the state. ODOT will accept applications until March 3, 2014.

If your school district has had a tragic event or some 'close calls' that need to be corrected, you may want to see what ODOT is doing... It's a federal program, and Ohio leads in implementation.

Ohio is the first state in the country to develop a comprehensive process to define needs in the largest and most disadvantaged areas in the state. Currently ODOT is working with Toledo Public Schools, Akron Public Schools, and Columbus City Schools to determine effective countermeasures to improve safety for students walking and bicycling to school.

Cincinnati was the first community in the country to complete a school district wide school travel plan. The city of Cincinnati is working with Cincinnati Public Schools to implement aspects of that plan, including infrastructure, education and encouragement components. They have since used the momentum to leverage other funding.

Ohio's Safe Routes to School Program is designed to assist communities in developing and implementing projects and programs that encourage and enable children in grades k-8, including those with disabilities, to walk or bike to school safely.

“The district-wide school travel plan has and continues to be a community connection among our schools, our neighborhoods, and our city.” Said Carmen Burks, Cincinnati Public Schools, Safe Routes to School Program Director. “As we move into the second year of implementation, the validation about the importance of the Safe Routes to School Program comes from the continued support and commitment to this project by the Ohio Department of Transportation and our local city officials.”

ODOT is looking to continue to build upon last years’ success with a new round of applicants.

“We encourage each and every community with a need for this program to reach out and apply. In the past seven years we have had the opportunity to work with schools and communities across the state to help them develop plans and implement projects that benefit the entire community. We look forward to finding new opportunities and continuing to improve the safety of transportation for our children,” said ODOT Director Jerry Wray.

Local and regional governments, schools and community organizations are eligible to apply for funding. More information and applications are located on the Safe Routes to School website: [L=www.dot.state.oh.us/saferoutes]Safe Routes[/L].