Safe Routes Project: Norway Elementary & Middle Schools

Nestled on the far western edge of Michigan's Upper Peninsula is Norway Elementary School and Norway Middle School, serving students from both the city of Norway and the community of Vulcan. Although they average nearly 62" of snowfall annually, that did not detract from this community's mission to create safer routes for their students to walk, bike and roll to school. Under the leadership of their schools' principal, Brad Grayvold, representatives from the city, and working with consultants from Coleman Engineering, this project looked at the needs of the many students and the conditions of the sidewalks and crosswalks surrounding the campus of schools.

The team identified the main routes that the students follow when walking to school. Along these routes several issues were noted that impeded the students' ability to walk safely to school. Existing sidewalks near the school were in poor condition with many sections heaving or containing sizable cracks. Another issue noted during their walking audit was the lack of ADA-compliant ramps (Americans with Disabilities Act) in several locations, instead having only full-height curbs at those corners. This made it nearly impossible for disabled children to walk to school. Additionally, in several spots there were missing sidewalk slabs that limited connectivity for students trying to walk to school.

In the end, the City of Norway was awarded $384,909 in infrastructure funds and was able to replace and complete gaps in the sidewalk along 13 blocks leading to the school campus, install 6 new crosswalks along these routes, and upgrade 15 sets of corners to be compliant with ADA standards for pedestrians. In addition to the infrastructure improvements, the Norway-Vulcan Area Schools was awarded $6,966.50 to implement a Walking School Bus program, which is being led by the principal himself.

This project was made possible by the collaborative efforts of the Norway-Vulcan Schools, the City of Norway, Dickinson-Iron Health Department, Coleman Engineering, and the MDOT TSC office, and has the potential to impact 115 of the schools' 465 students who live within a walkable distance of the schools. A big congratulations to all!

Call for Mini-Grant Applications

Applications for mini-grants are available so you can develop a Safe Routes to School program in your community. These grants allow schools to apply for up to $5,000 to fund programs that educate and encourage students throughout Michigan to walk and bike to school. Want to grow or strengthen a walking school bus program? Interested in developing a bike mechanics club? Mini-Grants can help you with these endeavors, and more!

Contact Programs Coordinator, Katie Johnson (kjohnson@michiganfitness.org), to learn more and discuss your ideas. The formal grant application process will open in mid-January, so save the date and keep a look out for more on the Safe Routes to School website.