Stanislaus County stood alone Tuesday among eight in the San Joaquin Valley as the only county left behind on Safe Routes to School grants.
The valley's seven other counties snagged a combined $4.2 million, which they'll leverage for 18 projects worth $4.7 million, all aimed at helping students travel safely to and from schools.
Tuesday's competitive awards will help create lighted crosswalks near Ripona Elementary School in Ripon and make other improvements around 10 schools in Merced and one each in Los Banos, Winton and Le Grand.
"This will definitely improve safety of crossing," said Kevin Werner, Ripon's city engineer, who landed $173,640.
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But Stanislaus County and its nine cities, some of which received $4.8 million in Safe Routes to School money from previous rounds, went 0-for-8 this time.
State Department of Transportation officials, working with a committee of state and federal officials and safety advocates, rejected three Modesto applications asking for a combined $1.4 million, plus five others throughout Stanislaus County.
Modesto employees had hoped to pave a dirt pathway called Briggs Ditch between Maze Boulevard and California Avenue used by hundreds of students headed to Franklin and Pearson elementary schools and Mark Twain Junior High School in west Modesto. It's different from a previous project that brought sidewalks to another area near Mark Twain.
Also, the city had sought money for sidewalks near Oroville Wright and Dan Savage elementary schools, in the airport neighborhood and northeast Modesto, respectively.
Mark Twain Principal Julie Beebe said an area near her school and Franklin suffers with "a horrible flood mess anytime it even slightly rains. It's not fun."
Tulare County, with a population of 430,974, scooped up $1.1 million Tuesday in grants for five projects.
Calaveras County, outside the valley but just up the road, has fewer than 46,000 residents but managed to land a combined $1.25 million for two projects.
But Stanislaus County and its nine cities, with 523,095 people and eight applications, got skunked.
"We're disappointed," said Jeff Barnes, Modesto traffic engineer. Some projects are rejected multiple times before securing Safe Routes to School grants, he said.
"Looking at the funding available statewide, they don't necessarily want to give money to the same jurisdictions year after year," Barnes said. "They want to move it around to help different places.
"So we'll just try to sharpen up the applications next time and keep submitting."
Across California, Department of Transportation officials awarded $52 million Tuesday to 139 applications. They had received 487 applications.
The Merced City School District and Weaver Union School District will receive $779,490 for two traffic signals, flashing school signs, and curb, gutter and sidewalk construction around John Muir, Peterson, Reyes, Burbank, Fremont, Gracey, Pioneer and Farmdale elementary schools and Hoover and Rivera middle schools.
In addition, $303,030 will go toward school zone flashing beacons and rumble strips near Sybil N. Crookham Elementary School in Winton, Charleston Elementary School in Los Banos and Le Grand Elementary School.
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Bee staff writer Inga Miller contributed to this report.
Bee staff writer Garth Stapley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2390.