In the midst of cutbacks overshadowing the state, many communities encountered a reprieve this week as millions in federal grants were issued by the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) for 45 approved Transportation Alternatives Projects (TAP).

In the midst of cutbacks overshadowing the state, many communities encountered a reprieve this week as millions in federal grants were issued by the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) for 45 approved Transportation Alternatives Projects (TAP).

At the Oklahoma Transportation Commission’s meeting Monday, the commission approved nearly $22 million in federal funding to be matched with local funding to improve bicycle and pedestrian transportation in the state.

Several local projects that were awarded are:

• Asher Schools Trails Project; $296,000

• Earlsboro Sidewalks to Schools Project; $232,270

• Maud Trail Project; $385,000

• McLoud Walking Trail Project; $146,750

• Shawnee MacArthur Bike/Pedestrian Project; $675,100

• Tecumseh Walk With Me Project; $539,000

• Stroud Sidewalk Project; $143,758

Five of those projects received sponsorship aid from the Avedis Foundation, which directs the focus of its operations for the betterment of health and wellness in Pottawatomie County; Stroud did not receive Avedis funding, as it is in Lincoln County. McLoud's TAP application did not indicate any help from sponsorship funds.

According to ODOT, Avedis committed to providing 10 percent matching funds to account for a total sponsor funding of 30 percent –– rather than the required 20 percent –– to the City of Shawnee for its project.

A six-foot sidewalk will be created along the south side of MacArthur –– beginning at the southeast corner of Harrison Street going east, nearly a mile (4,050 feet), to connect with the existing sidewalk at the north end of Wyndemere Housing Addition near Grove School.

Three housing additions skirt the new project, fitting them into what will become an unbroken sidewalk that runs from Bryan Street all the way to St. Gregory's University on the west side of the city.

According to ODOT, that final portion of sidewalk will be located in such a way that will accommodate the future four-lane widening of MacArthur; it is currently two lanes.

Avedis President Michelle Briggs said the five projects fit in perfectly with the foundation's recently unveiled 5-year Master Trails and Sidewalk Plan.

“We couldn't be happier,” Briggs said. “Our longterm vision is to have a county-wide network of walking and biking trails throughout.”

ODOT Commissioners also praised the program and the benefits the selected projects will bring to the local communities.

“This program makes it possible for local governments to provide a safer, more connected transportation system for bicyclists, pedestrians and drivers. These projects can have a major impact, especially in small communities,” Executive Director Mike Patterson said. “We had so many great project applications this year, and I appreciate the sub-state planning districts providing their recommendations of quality projects that will have a significant impact on the communities.”

Funding for TAP is designated for local projects like sidewalks, pedestrian and bicycle trails, streetscapes, safe routes to school, and environmental or historical preservation.

A complete list and map of projects receiving TAP funding can be found at www.odot.org/tap.

You can reach Vicky O. Misa at (405) 214-3962.