Safe Routes to School

ADOT smooths process for school bus drivers to report stop sign violators

ADOT smooths process for school bus drivers to report stop sign violators

I-17 101 traffic interchange

ADOT smooths process for school bus drivers to report stop sign violators

ADOT smooths process for school bus drivers to report stop sign violators

August 3, 2021

PHOENIX – With school buses prowling through neighborhoods again as school resumes, drivers should expect to wait when the bus’s stop sign arm is extended while children are boarding and exiting the bus. However, about 13,000 motorists each year are reported by Arizona school bus drivers for not stopping as required.

A new streamlined process is allowing the Arizona Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Division to send warning letters more quickly to owners of vehicles that were reported as not stopping for the school bus stop sign.

Using an online form, bus drivers can send a complaint of a stop sign violator directly to ADOT’s Motor Vehicle Division. MVD then sends a notification letter, which is not a citation, to the vehicle owner as an effort to call attention to the seriousness of running the stop sign, which allows students getting on and off the bus a safe space to cross the street.

Previously, school bus drivers would fax forms to the Arizona Department of Public Safety, which then emailed or faxed the reports to MVD.

“Oftentimes, the reports were in batches and difficult to read, and it put DPS in the middle,” said MVD Senior Division Administrator Susan Trask. “We created an online form for the bus drivers to complete, removing DPS completely from the process, and making the submission electronic. This removed the need to fill out a form to fax or email.”

Motorists, who are issued citations by law enforcement officers for passing a school bus when a stop arm is extended, could face a civil penalty and possibly a suspended driver license under state law.

ADOT's Safe Routes to School program funds $4.5 million in projects

ADOT's Safe Routes to School program funds $4.5 million in projects


ADOT's Safe Routes to School program funds $4.5 million in projects

ADOT's Safe Routes to School program funds $4.5 million in projects

July 17, 2012

Several students from Calabasas Middle School in Rio Rico take part in a walk-to-school event.

It’s still summer vacation for most students, but several schools across Arizona already are planning on creating or enhancing their Safe Routes to School programs for next school year, thanks to reimbursement grants from ADOT.

Just last month, the State Transportation Board approved more than $4.5 million in grant funding for 27 Safe Routes to School projects in schools and communities statewide!

The projects, from easy start-up programs to major infrastructure improvements, are all designed to encourage kids of all ages to walk or bike to school and develop a healthy lifestyle...

That’s really the goal of Safe Routes to School – a federally funded program, administered in Arizona by ADOT. You can read more about the program HERE and HERE, but basically ADOT distributes federal grant money annually to schools, districts, tribal communities, municipalities and nonprofit agencies that successfully outline projects designed to help remove the barriers preventing students from safely and conveniently walking or biking to school.

More about the recent grant funding approval...

The 27 projects that recently received grant funding include 12 designated for infrastructure improvements (such as the construction of sidewalks, crosswalks, bike lanes, signage and striping). An additional 15 projects are for non-infrastructure elements, such as providing bike helmets to students, safety education and law enforcement. View a complete list of grant recipients and their awards for the current funding cycle on the Safe Routes to School web page.

Walking School Bus

ADOT's Safe Routes program also recently awarded reimbursement grants for the very first time to support a project called the Walking School Bus. This involves students and parent volunteers meeting at a designated safe location to walk to school as a group. The grants cover the cost of a Walking School Bus coordinator and stipends for volunteers to assist the coordinator.

"Walking School Buses are simple and fun ways for groups of kids to get a bit of physical activity right in their own neighborhoods," said Brian Fellows, ADOT's Safe Routes to School coordinator. "They can work anywhere — in urban, suburban and rural areas. One way to organize them is by utilizing a remote park and walk location — a park, retail area, church or other place of worship. Select a safe drop-off point away from the school site. Parents can drop off their kids at the site — by car or by walking. From here, they join the group of kids on an adult-escorted walk to school. There's safety in numbers. And the program has the added benefit of reducing the number of cars that typically clog the school parking lot."

Eight schools and agencies around Arizona received a portion of the $124,000 in grant money designated for the Walking School Bus program.

Safe Routes to School is a completely federally funded program. Since its first grant cycle in 2007, ADOT has provided more than $15 million to schools and communities statewide.

The federal Safe Routes to School program was created by the U.S. Congress in 2005 as a response to the growing epidemic of childhood obesity and diabetes.

ADOT takes a look back at 2011

ADOT takes a look back at 2011


ADOT takes a look back at 2011

ADOT takes a look back at 2011

January 3, 2012

2011's accomplishments include several projects.

The new year officially is here, but before we dive into 2012 we’re going to take a quick look back.

ADOT’s Public Information/Media Relations team came up with a great list of the state’s major transportation accomplishments from 2011 and we thought we’d share it here on the blog!

From new freeway openings to the approval of ADOT’s Long Range Transportation Plan, here's a look at some of the highlights …

Phoenix Area Freeways:

Loop 303 Opens

ADOT widened major stretches of Phoenix area freeways in 2011 and opened the first new segment of freeway to be built under the Maricopa Association of Government’s 20-year Regional Transportation Plan. Fourteen miles of Loop 303 were opened in May between Interstate 17 and Happy Valley Parkway in Peoria, allowing drivers for the first time to use Loop 303 to make the 39-mile trip between I-17 and I-10.

HOV Lane Additions

Drivers benefited from two accelerated projects to add High Occupancy Vehicle lanes along Loops 101 and 202. The final 30 miles of HOV lanes along Loop 101 between State Route 51 in north Phoenix and I-10 in Tolleson were opened in stages during the year and completed in November. Meanwhile, in the Chandler area, 12 miles of carpool lanes were completed this fall along Loop 202 Santan Freeway between I-10 and Gilbert Road.

I-10 Widening in West Valley

Another significant milestone was marked in August with the completion of ADOT’s three-year initiative to reconstruct and widen I-10 between Loop 101 and Verrado Way. Those projects modernized I-10, transforming what had been a limited highway with two lanes in each direction into a modern freeway that now provides as many as five lanes in each direction – including carpool lanes.

State Highway System:

Mescal Road/J-Six Ranch Road Bridge

Just over six months after a fiery crash damaged the Mescal Road/J-Six Ranch Road bridge, ADOT swiftly rebuilt the bridge to reconnect the Cochise County communities of Mescal and J-Six Ranch, which were separated by I-10 and depend on the overpass for convenient access to goods, services and neighbors. While the bridge was out of service, residents and workers in the Benson-area communities were required to take lengthy detours around I-10 to reach the other side of the highway. Federal Highway Administration emergency relief funds, a shortened time frame for designing the replacement bridge and a quick construction bid process all helped put the project on the fast track. A typical bridge construction project can take up to two years.

State Route 260 Widening

Continuing a decade-long commitment to expand the capacity of SR 260, ADOT completed a project to widen the highway starting 15 miles east of Payson from Little Green Valley to Thompson Draw. The $20 million project is the fourth of six projects to construct a four-lane divided highway from Star Valley to the top of the Mogollon Rim.

State Route 87 Improvements

ADOT fulfilled its commitment to complete SR 87 improvements before the Memorial Day weekend and in time for the busy tourism season in the Rim Country. The $11.8 million reconstruction and widening project included the addition of a third southbound lane to enhance safety and traffic flow along the uphill stretch during drives between Payson and the Phoenix area. The improvements were the latest in a series of projects during the last two decades to enhance travel on SR 87, which is now a divided four-lane highway between Mesa and Payson.

US 93 Widening Project

Shortly after ADOT completed a $71.3 million widening project on the US 93 approach to the new Hoover Dam bypass bridge in 2010, the first Desert Bighorn Sheep were spotted in February using one of the three wildlife crossings that were constructed to protect motorists and provide a safe crossing for the native animals. The project earned ADOT several honors this year, including the Arizona Chapter American Public Works Association Award, 2011 Public Works Project of the Year and FHWA’s 2011 Exemplary Ecosystem Initiative Award for the agency’s creative and innovative solution to balance motorists’ safety, while protecting wildlife and connecting ecosystems.

Hassayampa River Bridge Project

Just in time for the Fourth of July weekend, ADOT completed a $3.9 million bridge project over the Hassayampa River on I-10, approximately 40 miles west of downtown Phoenix. This area is a major route for travelers heading to and from California along I-10.

Overnight Bridge Demolition

On a late April night in southern Arizona, ADOT tore down two bridges in 10 hours – no small task. ADOT had already planned to remove the old Marsh Station bridge, which required a 67-mile overnight detour for motorists on I-10 east of Tucson. About three weeks before the demolition was set to occur, two semi trucks collided under the overpass at the Mescal Road/J-Six Ranch Road bridge. The bridge was badly damaged from the resulting fire and would have to be replaced.

Planning and Programming:

Long Range Transportation Plan

For more than two years, ADOT worked toward developing the state’s Long-Range Transportation Plan, a blueprint that looks 25 years into the future to determine how to plan for and fund transportation projects that keep up with Arizona’s needs. The State Transportation Board formally approved the Long Range Transportation Plan, also known as What Moves You Arizona, in November, allowing ADOT planners to move ahead with their work to develop a transportation system that will carry Arizona into the future. The award-winning program was nationally recognized for planning and involving the public.

Intercity Rail Study

In October, ADOT kicked off the public outreach phase of its intercity rail study. The study’s goal is to identify if there is a need for intercity rail along I-10 between Phoenix and Tucson. Over the course of a month, ADOT gathered information, data and comments. The agency will provide its findings to the public and to policymakers, so they can make an informed decision about how to move forward. ADOT is looking at all options, which include rail, transit—and the option to build nothing at all. The study will be complete in 2013.

Bicycle Safety Action Plan

As part of our public safety plan, ADOT is developing a Bicycle Safety Action Plan to help keep cyclists safe on Arizona’s highways. The goal is to reduce the number of bicycle crashes with motor vehicles and improve safety for both cyclists and drivers.  The goal of the Bicycle Safety Action Plan is to reduce the total number of bicycle crashes on Arizona highways by 12 percent by 2018.

Safe Routes to School

This year, nearly $3.5 million in grant funding was distributed by ADOT for 21 Safe Routes to School projects for schools and communities statewide. Eight of these projects, totaling $2.8 million, were designated for infrastructure improvements, such as the construction of sidewalks, crosswalks, bike lanes, signage and striping. An additional 13 projects, totaling $720,000, went toward non-infrastructure elements, such as providing bike helmets to students, safety education and law enforcement. All Safe Routes to School projects are designed to get kids walking or biking and adopt healthy habits.

Motor Vehicle Division and Enforcement and Compliance Division:

Motor Vehicle Division

MVD continued to improve the quality of customer service at MVD offices by shortening the wait times for the more common motor vehicle and driver license transactions, while serving over 3.5 million customers at MVD’s 54 offices or satellite/specialized offices in 2011 The average wait time per transaction was approximately 19 minutes, compared to over 45 minutes just five years ago. Throughout the year, MVD also provided transaction assistance to returning soldiers with the U.S. Army Intelligence Command at Fort Huachuca in southern Arizona. ADOT also launched several new specialty license plates, including the long-awaited Arizona Centennial plate.

Enforcement and Compliance Division

ADOT officers conducted Operation Bullhead, joint-agency commercial vehicle enforcement operation in Mohave County at the request of Bullhead City officials. ADOT officers recovered stolen vehicles identified during inspections. The enforcement division also created a Single Trip Overweight International Border Permit program for produce transporters out of Mexico and assisted local law enforcement with scrap metal yard investigations.

Other Accomplishments:

Grand Canyon National Park Airport

In June, the Grand Canyon National Park Airport, owned and operated by ADOT, began daily 737 airline service from McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas. Travelers can now book a flight on Vision Airlines out of Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon. The new service is the first step in a larger vision to make it easier for all tourists to visit the canyon. The Transportation Security Administration was also stationed at the airport this year, making it easier for airline companies to fly into the airport, since they no longer have to provide their own passenger screening.

$5 million in grants available from ADOT's Safe Routes to School program

$5 million in grants available from ADOT's Safe Routes to School program


$5 million in grants available from ADOT's Safe Routes to School program

$5 million in grants available from ADOT's Safe Routes to School program

September 23, 2011

A new school year is in full swing and now is the time for Arizona educators to take advantage of the $5 million in grants available from Safe Routes to School!

Safe Routes to School is a federally funded program that’s administered in Arizona by ADOT. Grant money is annually distributed to schools, districts, tribal communities, municipalities and nonprofit agencies that successfully outline projects designed to help remove the barriers preventing students from safely and conveniently walking or biking to school (You can read more about the program in our June blog post).

Grants are awarded for things like bike racks, crossing signals and even traffic circles and speed humps. Non-infrastructure projects are eligible, too. Just take a look at the video above for some inspiration!

“The goals of the Arizona Safe Routes to School program are to get the funding in the hands of people who want to do good things like this, who care about their kids’ health, who want to get their kids out and give them extra opportunities for physical activity. Because nationwide health statistics are showing that children are obese,” said ADOT’s Safe Routes to School program coordinator Brian Fellows in the video above.

ADOT is currently accepting applications for its latest cycle of federal grants to implement Safe Routes to School programs in schools and communities around the state. The applications for this cycle must be submitted by Dec. 30.

In addition to the $5 million in federal grants that are available through ADOT’s Safe Routes to School program, the National Center for Safe Routes to School is now accepting applications for 25 mini-grants of $1,000 each. Mini-grants fund activities that range from the nuts and bolts that help start or sustain a Safe Routes to School program to new ideas that enable and encourage children to safely walk and bike to school. Applications for the mini-grants are due Oct. 19.

Better safe than sorry: Arizona school zones aim to provide safe crossings

Better safe than sorry: Arizona school zones aim to provide safe crossings


Better safe than sorry: Arizona school zones aim to provide safe crossings

Better safe than sorry: Arizona school zones aim to provide safe crossings

August 16, 2011

By Kohinoor Kar and Mike Cynecki, Guest Bloggers

The need for pedestrian and bicyclist safety at schools, especially involving young students, cannot be overemphasized. While federal, state and local agencies are encouraging fit and healthy lifestyles by promoting walking and biking to school, the safety of these children should be our highest priority.

Arizona has been a leader in providing a system for safe school crossings, and there is some important information motorists should know while driving around schools in our communities.

Arizona has a unique way to establish low-speed school zone crossings. The system was first established in 1950 through adoption of Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS) 28-797. This state law provides a uniform application of 15 mph school zone traffic control that can only be used for elementary and middle schools (kindergarten through eighth grades) in Arizona at authorized school crossings meeting certain minimum criteria.

Rules of the school zone …

  • The 15 mph school zones cannot be used at crosswalks that are controlled by STOP signs or traffic signals.
  • The state law provides for the use of portable signs and yellow crosswalk markings, and the 15 mph provision is only in effect when the portable signs are placed in the street.
  • The school zone signs are placed and removed by crossing guards or school employees under a special operating agreement between the school district and the traffic agency that controls the roadway, and can only be used for legitimate school crossing activities during a normal school day.
  • Each 15 mph school zone is preceded by a permanent fluorescent yellow-green pentagon-shaped advance school warning sign showing two walking school children.
  • The first portable sign placed in the street states, “NO PASSING, 15 MPH, FINES DOUBLED, SCHOOL IN SESSION,” which is located about 75 to 300 feet in advance of the yellow crosswalk depending on the non-school posted speed limit. This portable sign is placed at the location where the 15 mph speed limit begins. Furthermore, motorists cannot pass any other slower or stopped vehicles between the first portable 15 mph sign to the yellow crosswalk. At the yellow crosswalk, a different portable sign exists which states, “STOP WHEN CHILDREN IN CROSSWALK.”

A few guidelines …

Unlike white crosswalks where drivers are required to “yield and stop if necessary” to pedestrians crossing on their half of the street, ARS 28-797 requires all drivers to stop if anyone (including children, adults or crossing guards) are present anywhere within the yellow school crosswalk when the portable signs are in the street. After all pedestrians exit the yellow crosswalk, drivers may proceed.

Motorists should be very careful while driving near 15 mph school zone crosswalks, especially when the crossing guards are placing or removing the portable signs from the street. The crossing guards are most vulnerable during these times.

In addition, motorists need to be careful any time while driving in neighborhoods near schools or school crossings, especially during the start and end times of the school day. Motorists also need to be careful around school buses and cannot pass them in either direction if they are displaying their STOP paddle while stopped to pick up or drop off students.

Regardless of the time of the year, motorists should be vigilant while driving in neighborhoods, since young children may dart out from behind a parked car or ride their bike in the street without looking for approaching vehicles. Undoubtedly, it is better to be late for an appointment than to race through a neighborhood and experience a tragic crash with a child.


Kohinoor Kar, Ph.D., P.E., PTOE, a professional engineer with 22 years combined experience in the roadway, traffic and safety field, has been with the State of Arizona for past seven years.

Michael J. Cynecki, P.E. recently retired from the City of Phoenix after a career of 26 years in the Transportation Department, and is currently with the consulting firm of Lee Engineering, LLC.

Disclaimer: Opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors or references cited herein and may not necessarily represent the views of the agencies they are affiliated with. Information contained in this article are for general awareness only and are not intended to substitute for professional advice to any particular person or case. Some of the information might change over time in which case the current practice would supersede all previous practices.


ADOT plays a role in Safe Routes to School

ADOT plays a role in Safe Routes to School


ADOT plays a role in Safe Routes to School

ADOT plays a role in Safe Routes to School

June 8, 2011

Rico participate in a national walk-to-school event.

Between homework, heavy backpacks and pop quizzes, kids face enough challenges … walking to school should be the simplest part of the day.

But that’s not always the case, which is a reason why Safe Routes to School was created. The program takes aim at the growing epidemic of childhood obesity by making it a little easier and a bit safer for kids to ride a bike or walk to school!

ADOT administers the federally funded program in Arizona and annually distributes grant money to schools, districts, tribal communities, municipalities and nonprofit agencies who successfully outline projects that help remove the barriers preventing students from safely and conveniently walking or biking to school.

Something to think about …

According to the Federal Highways Administration’s Safe Routes to School website, in 1969 just about half of all students walked or biked to school. But today, fewer than 15 percent of all school trips are made by walking or bicycling.

That shift has led to more traffic congestion around schools and might be partly to blame for health issues like childhood obesity. According to a CDC report cited on the FHWA website, safety issues are the big concern for parents … traffic danger is often cited as a reason why their kids don’t bike or walk to school.

How SRTS works …

The program provides reimbursement funds for projects that remove obstacles like traffic danger and that encourage children to walk and bike to school.

Those projects can include things like the installation of bike racks, crossing signals, cross walks, sidewalks and bike paths. And, as long as the location is appropriate, traffic calming measures (think traffic circles and speed humps) can be funded, too.

Grants also are awarded for non-infrastructure projects – bike rodeos, “walk to school” days and other events are eligible for funds. Even incentives for students, like bicycle helmets or other prizes, are regularly funded by Safe Routes to School … anything to get students more interested in walking and biking!


This radar speed alert sign is an example of a smaller-scale SRTS project that can play a big role in helping to keep pedestrians safe.

Since the first grant cycle in 2007, ADOT has awarded approximately $10 million in SRTS funding. In just the 2011 cycle alone, funding was awarded for 21 projects!

According to ADOT’s SRTS Coordinator Brian Fellows, this year the SRTS Advisory Committee received grant requests for about three times the amount available.

But, Safe Routes to School doesn’t just fund projects. It also offers guidance to schools through a planning assistance program and a tribal planning assistance program. Fellows explained that schools can apply to get some no-cost assistance from SRTS consultants who will spend time at the school and will work with administrators to figure out what barriers are in place that prevent more students from walking or biking to school.  There are also several grant-writing assistance program workshops offered through ADOT that are designed to help schools and organizations apply for Safe Routes to School grants. 

“One of Safe Routes to School’s big successes and the reason why it has worked in Arizona and all the other states is because there are enough items on the menu, so to speak, and it is flexible enough that it offers options that work in every scenario,” said Fellows, adding whether it is a low-cost option or a project that entails a pretty big construction overhaul, it can be successful if the principles behind SRTS are followed.

The next SRTS $4-million grant cycle begins in September. Applications are due by Dec. 30 and individual grant requests can be made up to $400,000. For more information on the program and the numerous workshops offered, visit the Safe Routes to School website.