The Oklahoma Department of Transportation awarded a total of $7.5 million to 21 cities Monday, including Chandler and Prague, which will use the funds to create safe routes for students.

The Oklahoma Transportation Commission approved the funds and according to Economic Development Consultant for Chandler, Dusty Martin, the city received $550,028 for their project.

"(The project) is part of their safer routes to schools project," Martin said.

The new route will be a walkway connecting Chandler High School and Park Road Elementary to the athletic fields. It will be along Park Road and Keith Duncan Blvd.

Martin explained the new route will make it easier and safer for students to get to the athletic fields and surrounding neighborhoods.

"The whole objective is to provide a safe walking area for the kids...," Martin said.

As part of these projects ODOT paid for 80 percent of the cost but applicants had to come up with the other 20 percent.

Martin said the remaining funds were supplied by the Avedis Foundation in Shawnee and dedicated to supporting Pottawatomie County.

The consultant explained construction on the new route could begin in the next 12-18 months but the committee in charge of the project will meet soon to discuss next steps.

Chandler also formed a partnership with Sac & Fax Nation and Lincoln County Commissioners to replace an existing bridge that includes a walkway that connects to the proposed project.

Like Chandler, Prague was awarded money for a safe school route. They received $491,926 to be used for new sidewalks and a bridge.

According to Prague City Manager Jim Greff, the sidewalks and bridge will connect the city park and library to the high school, middle school, elementary and athletic fields. The bridge will be at 16 St., N Westlawn Drive and US Highway 62.

Greff said the city came up with half of the remaining funds for the project and the Avedis Foundation provided the other half.

The city manger explained a timeline for construction of the sidewalk is not yet clear.

To be eligible for the ODOT grants cites had to have a population less than 5,000. A total of 71 different cities applied and the department worked with Oklahoma’s 11 regional planning districts to review and chose the projects.