The Nebraska Department of Roads (NDOR) launched Safe Routes Nebraska (SRN) in October 2006. The success of SRN is attributed to five factors. The first factor is SRN’s Web site, which serves as the center of the campaign and is designed to assist with the application process, inform parents, empower teachers, and engage children. Second is program management, which is headed by a full-time coordinator from a private architecture firm, Sinclair Hille Architects. By hiring an outside firm, NDOR can dedicate full-time attention to the program, thus increasing the time spent working with the Nebraskans who benefit from SRN funding.
Also contributing to the success of SRN is the implementation assistance NDOR provides. Each funding recipient receives a copy of NDOR’s “Safe Routes Nebraska Guidelines for Project Development,” which explains each stage of project development, provides examples of excellent work plans and summarizes the state and federal requirements for SRN projects. The final two factors contributing to the success of SRN involve the application process. Great effort went into designing an application process that is simple but still useful in helping applicants create high-quality project proposals. By implementing a phased application process, applicants can communicate with administrators throughout the process. The final success factor is the delivery of prompt funding, made possible by the fiveperson select committee recruited by NDOR and comprised of experts in SRTS-related areas. The select committee scores and ranks the applications and then offers funding to those programs that more closely fit the program’s intent. Of the 81 final project applications, the select committee recommended 23 projects (13 infrastructure, 10 non-infrastructure) for funding.
The SRN coordinator teams with an advertising agency to develop brand guidelines to help SRN express a consistent visual and verbal message, develop the SRN Web site, design marketing materials and print a series of “newspapers” delivered to every third and fourth grade class with instructions for the teacher on how to use the SRN messages in the classroom. NDOR also provides technical assistance to aid people throughout the application process. NDOR offers the National Center for Safe Routes to School-sponsored “Safe Routes to School Training Seminar Series” at no cost to all local governments, school principals, school superintendents and city planners.
Also, NDOR holds application workshops across the state, with additional workshops in areas that did not receive SRN funding, to share program information and details about the types of projects that receive funding.
NDOR utilizes partnerships with several private and public organizations to enhance the success of the program. Many divisions within NDOR, including Government Affairs, Traffic Engineering, and the Nebraska Federal Highway Division, provide input as to the direction of SRN. NDOR works closely with the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services to include data on state childhood obesity trends in the SRN fact sheets.
Sinclair Hille Architects
700 Q St.
Lincoln, NE 68508