SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Dozens of Illinois communities are receiving grants to improve safety around schools and encourage students to walk or bike to school.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced the $5.5 million in grants Tuesday. He says the Safe Routes to Schools projects are funded with federal money, at no cost to Illinois taxpayers.

The projects include sidewalk and crosswalk improvements, better signage and equipment for crossing guards and parent patrols.

The grants were announced during an event at King Middle School in Kankakee. The school is located on a busy roadway where 26 traffic incidents have been reported in the past five years.

Kankakee Mayor Chasity Wells-Armstrong says the initiative started when a student sent a letter saying they were concerned about safety. Wells-Armstrong says it’s a civics lesson students won’t forget.

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