The Idaho Transportation Department has awarded three Wood River Valley governmental entities a total of more than $82,000 to continue "Safe Routes to School" programs in Bellevue and Hailey.
Statewide, ITD awarded grants for 2008 worth $890,000 to 19 communities for projects designed to encourage students to walk or ride bicycles to school.
In the Wood River Valley, $56,782 was awarded to Bellevue, $2,500 to Hailey and $22,950 to Mountain Rides Transportation Authority, which has coordinated the overall program in the valley.
The Mountain Rides grant will be used mainly to "educate and encourage" students and parents to participate in the program, said Jim Finch, Mountain Rides Safe Routes to School coordinator.
The major emphasis is "to train kids on safety and to organize groups of kids to walk and ride bikes to school," Finch said. "The idea of the Safe Routes to School is a group of kids being led to school by an adult."
Hailey's grant is also earmarked to educate and encourage students to use the existing safe route connector from Elm Street to Hailey Elementary School.
Bellevue's funding is for development of pathways, which are still being designed, but will provide a safe-route corridor along Cedar and Fifth streets to Bellevue Elementary School.
"Fewer kids are walking to school now than ever before," Finch said. "One of the goals of the Safe Routes to School program is to raise awareness among communities about the need to provide good connectivity between neighborhoods and schools."