Infrastructure Projects - Background and Eligibility

A few decades ago, walking and bicycling to school were commonplace. In 1969, roughly half of all 5- to 18-year olds either walked or biked to school. Times have changed, and today, nearly 90 percent of our youth are driven to school either by bus or individual car. This change in transportation mode has added to traffic congestion, a reduction in air quality and the deterioration of our children's health. As much as 27 percent of the nation's morning traffic is made up of parents driving their children to school.

Program Purpose

Safe Routes to School (SRTS) is a new program to enable and encourage children, including those with disabilities, to walk and bicycle to school; to make walking and bicycling to school safe and more appealing; and to facilitate the planning, development and implementation of projects that will improve safety, and reduce traffic, fuel consumption and air pollution in the vicinity of schools.


Eligible schools are elementary and middle schools (grades Kindergarten through Eighth). Eligible applicants for infrastructure projects include city, county and state governments.


This program is 100 percent federally funded, and managed through the Iowa Department of Transportation (Iowa DOT). Grants will be awarded through a statewide competitive process. Seventy to ninety percent of the total Safe Routes to School funds will be dedicated to infrastructure projects, with remaining funds going towards noninfrastructure projects (education, encouragement, enforcement, and evaluation). Infrastructure projects must be within a two-mile radius of the school.

Due to limited funding, applicants are encouraged to be as cost-effective as possible in order for funds to stretch as far as possible. Minimum funding for infrastructure projects is set at $25,000 with maximum project funding set at $250,000. Applicants may apply for more than one infrastructure project per funding cycle; however, the total amount awarded will not exceed $250,000 per jurisdiction. Applicants who are not selected are encouraged to apply the following year.

Comprehensive Program

Research has shown the most successful way to increase walking and bicycling is through a comprehensive approach that includes the "5Es" (engineering, education, encouragement, enforcement and evaluation). Applicants requesting funding for infrastructure projects are also required to address how they are implementing each of the 5Es other than engineering  These can be existing programs, enhanced programs or new programs. Applicants are not required to apply for noninfrastructure funding as part of their infrastructure project. However, if noninfrastructure funding is requested, it can be included within the infrastructure application.

Special Requirements

There are several federal and state requirements that apply to the Safe Routes to School funding program. As a starting point, we recommend applicants review the Iowa DOT's Project Development Information Packet. See the Resources page for more information.

Title 23

All infrastructure projects funded with SRTS monies must comply with Title 23 requirements of the U.S. Code that include, but are not limited to, Davis Bacon prevailing wage rates, competitive bidding and other contracting requirements. U.S. DOT regulations are available at

As part of the Title 23 requirements, all projects funded with SRTS monies must also comply with National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regulations. Most SRTS infrastructure projects will likely fall under the categorical exclusions provisions of 23 CFR Sec 771.117 that recognize construction of bicycle and pedestrian lanes, paths and facilities as not involving significant environmental impacts. See the Infrastructure Projects - Environmental Assessments page for a partial list of typical projects that qualify for categorical exclusion. In many cases, a simple categorical exclusion may be filed. Compliance is the responsibility of the applicant and will be determined during project development.


Facilities must be designed to reasonably meet the needs of persons with disabilities. In so doing, the applicant must comply with all applicable provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Additional information is available at

Inclusion in TIP/STIP

All projects funded with SRTS monies must be programmed in the local metropolitan planning organization's or regional planning affiliation's Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) and the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP). Applicants should work in close cooperation with their metropolitan planning organization or regional planning affiliation prior to submitting an application to ensure local support and consistency with regulations.

Local Permits

Applicants are responsible for any and all local permits relevant to their project. Applicants should work with their appropriate partners to determine necessary permits.

Ineligible Uses of SRTS Funding

Safe Routes to School funding is not permitted for any of the following purposes.
  • Recurring costs such as crossing guard salaries.
  • Projects that improve pick-up and drop-off areas for the convenience of drivers rather than to improve child safety and/or walking and bicycling access.
  • Bus safety programs.
  • Improving routes to bus stops.

Application Details

Applicants may apply for more than one project grant, but each project requires a separate application (i.e., if an applicant wants to develop a crosswalk at one school and a sidewalk improvement at another school, the applicant would need to submit two separate applications). However, projects can have multiple scopes (i.e., there may be several improvements required around one school area). This would be considered one project with multiple scopes within it. If you are not sure what type of application to complete, contact Kathy Ridnour, Iowa Safe Routes to School program coordinator at 515-239-1713 or

If selected, applicants will be required to enter into a contract with Iowa DOT. Applicants must fund their project up-front and then submit receipts to the Iowa DOT for funding reimbursement.

Any work performed by the applicant prior to receiving written authorization to proceed is not eligible for reimbursement. All projects must be completed no later than two years following the date of the funding award.

Download the Iowa Safe Routes to School Infrastructure Grant Application