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      Safe Routes to School grant awarded to 18 Virginia communities

      Portions of the grant will go toward improving bike trails and promoting walking and biking to school.

      More than a dozen cities and towns across Virginia will receive a grant from the Virginia Department of Transportation to promote biking and walking to school, including 10 schools in the the D.C. Metro area.

      Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell announced Wednesday that 18 communities will receive a portion of the $5.9 million granted as part of the Safe Routes to School program. It's designed for schools and cities to improve walking and biking opportunities for children between kindergarten and 8th grade.

      "We are helping to reduce congestion, improve air quality and promote other transportation choices," Gov. McDonnell said in a statement. "We also are encouraging healthy habits that we hope will transform into healthy lifestyles as these children grow."

      In Northern Virginia, schools in Alexandria, Falls Church, Manassas Park, Fairfax County, Fauquier County and Vienna will receive funding to for infrastructure projects, including pedestrian and bicycle crossings, trails, signing and traffic calming.

      The schools that will benefit in Northern Virginia include:

      -Matthew Maury Elementary, Mount Vernon Combined School, William Ramsey Elementary and James Polk Elementary in Alexandria
      -Mt. Daniel Elementary and Mary Ellen Henderson Middle in Falls Church
      -Manassas Park Middle School
      -Terra Centre Elementary School in Burke
      -Cedar Lee Middle School in Bealeton
      -Cunningham Park Elementary School in Vienna

      Schools in Colonial Heights, Galax, Roanoke, Staunton, Waynesboro, Lynchburg, Ashland, Blacksburg, Chincoteague, Colonial Beach, Stanley and West Point also will benefit from the grant.