Noninfrasctructure 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 our 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 noninfrastructure projects include cities, counties, local and state governments, schools, and nonprofit organizations.

This program is 100 percent federally funded, and managed through the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT). Grants will be awarded through a statewide competitive process. Ten to thirty percent of the total Safe Routes to School funds will be dedicated to noninfrastructure (education, encouragement, enforcement, and evaluation) projects, with remaining funds going towards infrastructure projects. 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 noninfrastructure projects is set at $3,500. Applicants who are not selected in this funding cycle 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 "5 Es" (Engineering, Education, Encouragement, Enforcement and Evaluation). Applicants requesting funding for noninfrastructure projects are also required to address the engineering component in their project. This could be as simple as explaining that all needed infrastructure is in place for students to safely walk and bicycle to school. If a project includes both infrastructure and noninfrastructure components, an infrastructure application should be completed with the noninfrastructure portion incorporated into that application.

Special Requirements

There are several federal and state requirements that apply to the Safe Routes to School funding program.

Title 23

Projects funded with SRTS monies must comply with some Title 23 requirements of the U.S. Code. U.S. DOT regulations are available at

As part of the Title 23 requirements, all projects funded with SRTS monies must comply with National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regulations. All SRTS noninfrastructure projects will likely qualify for a categorical exclusion, which means the project does not involve significant environmental impacts. See the Noninfrastructure Projects - Environmental Assessments page for a partial list of questions to help you determine if your project will require more than a Categorical Exclusion. 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

Following funding approval by the Iowa DOT, 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

There are two types of noninfrastructure application forms - one for developing a SRTS Study or Plan and one for other types of noninfrastructure projects such as implementing an education and encouragement program, completing bicycle and pedestrian audits, developing a crossing guard program, etc. If you have any questions about completing the application forms, 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 the Iowa DOT. Applicants must fund their project up-front and then submit receipts to the 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 application form