Investing in a healthier northeastern Illinois

The Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) Improvement Program is a federally funded program of surface transportation improvements designed to improve air quality and mitigate congestion. Northeastern Illinois receives CMAQ funding because the region does not meet federal air quality standards for ozone emissions.

To address these challenges, the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) is tasked with managing and awarding federal funding available through CMAQ to support improvements like transit upgrades and bike infrastructure that improve air quality and alleviate congestion.

In northeastern Illinois, for example, CMAQ funding helped launch the Divvy bike share program in Chicago, support the bike and pedestrian path flyover by Navy Pier, and develop the Cal-Sag Trail in the south suburbs. The CMAQ, CRP, & TAP Project Selection Committee provides overall guidance for the development of the CMAQ Program. Sign up for the transportation newsletter to learn when the next call for projects opens in 2024.

Current CMAQ projects

During the most recent programming cycle, CMAP developed a $358 million, five-year program of 43 new CMAQ projects that will improve air quality, reduce the impacts of climate change, and help to mitigate traffic congestion.

What does CMAQ fund?

The CMAQ program supports projects designed to reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality in urban areas that do not meet national air quality standards. The program helps fund improvements that encourage alternatives to driving alone, improve traffic flow, and help regions meet air quality goals.

CMAQ funding can go toward surface transportation projects that benefit air quality without contributing to traffic congestion, particularly single-occupant vehicles. Proposals considered for CMAQ funding generally include:

  • Transit improvements related to service, equipment, facilities, or access
  • Traffic flow improvements related to intersections, signals, and bottlenecks
  • Bike infrastructure and facility improvements
  • Improvements that directly reduce emissions

Several types of projects cannot receive CMAQ funding, including:

  • Expansion of single-occupancy vehicle capacity
  • Transit operations (other than the first three years)
  • Routine maintenance
  • Mandated private sector demand management activities
  • Light-duty vehicle scrappage programs
  • Standalone fuel purchase programs
  • Project phases already underway

Read more details about CMAQ funding eligibility.

Who can apply?

CMAQ funding is only available for use in non-attainment areas for the eight-hour ozone and annual fine particulate matter (PM2.5) emission standards. Contact your Council of Mayors planning liaison if you are unsure whether your community is in the non-attainment area.

Eligible project sponsors include any state agency or governmental unit that can levy taxes, as well as agencies authorized to receive certain funding from the Federal Transit Administration (e.g., county, municipality, township, park district, forest preserve district, or transit agency). Other entities can apply but must partner with an eligible applicant.

Performance progress

The CMAQ Mid-Point Performance Plan summarizes the performance measure targets associated with the program and assesses progress for two-year targets. The performance measures are peak hour excessive delay, non-single-occupant-vehicle travel, and on-road mobile source emissions. The 2018 CMAQ Performance Plan is available for comparison.