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Grant to help with student safety in Tyler

‘Whole community effort’ leads to getting almost $7,000 to boost ‘Safe Routes’ around new school

Construction of the new Russell-Tyler-Ruthton school continues at a site along Lincoln County Road 8 in Tyler. The school will serve students in pre-K through 12th grade, and as part of the preparations for opening the school, community members are working to help get the word out about safe walking and biking.

TYLER — Making the city of Tyler a safer place for pedestrians and cyclists has been a community-wide effort over the past couple of years. And the site of the new Russell-Tyler-Ruthton school was an important part of that mission.

“With the new school coming up this year, we wanted to get some resources out there,” said Tyler City Administrator Stephanie LaBrune. Now, with help from a Safe Routes To School boost grant, the city of Tyler will be able to help provide equipment like bike racks and crossing guard equipment for the new school, and opportunities for safety education.

The new RTR school, located along Lincoln County Road 8 in Tyler, will serve students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. Construction is planned to be complete by this fall.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation announced Thursday that it was awarding a total of nearly $350,000 in Safe Routes To School grants to 19 schools and communities across the state. The SRTS program is geared toward improving safety around schools and making it easier for kids to walk and bike to school.

“During the pandemic, when many students and families are learning from home and confined to their screens indoors, we know Minnesotans need safe places to get out and walk or bicycle more than ever before,” SRTS coordinator Dave Cowan said in Thursday’s announcement. “These grants help give schools and communities more options to expand Safe Routes To School Activities.”

Tyler was awarded an SRTS boost implementation grant, which is designed to support existing SRTS work. LaBrune said the plan for the city’s grant was to hold an educational bike rodeo, as well as to get bike racks and crossing guard equipment for the new school.

MnDOT didn’t list the individual grant amounts awarded for the 2021 SRTS recipients. But LaBrune said the city received about $6,800.

LaBrune said the community safety planning that helped lead to the grant involved a wide variety of people and organizations.

“It all got started from our Walkable Community Task Force,” she said. The task force worked together with the city of Tyler, RTR School District, Lincoln County and Southwest Health and Human Services to plan ways to improve walking and biking safety, and to look for potential grant opportunities.

“It’s a whole community effort,” she said. In the long term, the task force hopes to work to improve sidewalks and create safe road crossings in Tyler. Having safe crossings on Highway 14 in Tyler would help make it possible for students on the south side of town to safely get to school, LaBrune said.

RTR Superintendent David Marlette said construction is continuing to progress at the new school site, although now a lot of the work and planning is focused on the building’s interior. “We’ve been very busy,” he said.

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