Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality

Background

Congestion Mitigation Air Quality (CMAQ) is a federal program, whose primary goals are to improve air quality and reduce congestion. CMAQ provides funding for transportation projects or programs that will contribute to attainment or maintenance of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for ozone, carbon dioxide, and particulate matter (both PM10 and PM2.5).

With the Merced County Region designated as nonattainment for ozone and PM2.5, and attainment for PM10, the Merced County Association of Governments (MCAG) receives about $3 million a year of apportioned CMAQ funding. The Governing Board approves the programming of these CMAQ funds to eligible projects sponsored by the local agencies.

Per the federal CMAQ program guidance, project/program eligibility criteria are as follows:

  • It must be transportation related.
  • It must generate an emissions reduction. Per the California Air Resources Board cost-effectiveness calculations, CMAQ projects must show (and report) emission reduction benefit.
  • It must be located in or benefit a nonattainment or maintenance area.

Federal CMAQ Program Guidance

Program of Projects

For the past number of years, CMAQ has been programmed for a variety of purposes including transit projects and programs (i.e. expanded service pilot; public outreach and education), rideshare marketing, diesel equipment replacements, street sweeper replacements, bike/pedestrian projects, traffic flow improvements (i.e. traffic signals synchronization; roundabouts; turn lane pockets).

CMAQ Program of Projects (PDF)

Cost-Effectiveness Programming in 2019

Call for Projects - Fall 2020

There is approximately $3 million of CMAQ funding available in the upcoming Federal Fiscal Year (FFY) 2020/21, which runs from October 1, 2020 to September 30, 2021. On April 17, 2020, the MCAG Governing Board adopted the updated Goals and Procedures for Programming CMAQ Funds in order to provide guidance. The Board also authorized staff to release the CMAQ “Call for Projects” to the member jurisdictions (only the cities and the County may apply).

Per the federal CMAQ guidance, the proposed project must be transportation-related and must generate emission reduction(s) for Merced Region’s criteria pollutants (NOx, PM10, PM2.5).

All CMAQ-eligible projects are welcomed with the following exception. MCAG will not consider equipment replacement.

However, "quick-delivery" projects are desirable to make use of these next FFY funds. "Quick delivery" refers to having PE and CON in the same year...these projects (i.e. sidewalk projects without right-of-way need and issues) could be construction-ready and submit the RFA CON by July 2021 (once CON funds obligated, construction to start in the Fall of 2021).

Also, "highly cost-effective" (HCE) projects, those with cost-effectiveness of $45/lb. emissions or better, are given preferential treatment through scoring. This is especially true for HCE traffic flow improvements.

Examples of eligible projects include:

  • Transit capital / improvements / management systems;
  • Ridesharing, carpooling and vanpooling;
  • Active transportation (bicycle and/or pedestrian) projects- must be new facilities; repair, maintenance, or upgrade of existing facilities are not eligible;
  • Certain traffic flow improvements (i.e. roundabout, auxiliary lane, signals synchronization); and
  • Dirt paving of facilities that meet usage thresholds.

The deadline for application submittal is June 3, 2020.

Schedule:

  • CMAQ "Call for Projects" -  Release April 20, 2020
  • Application Deadline - June 3, 2020.
  • CMAQ Committee to Evaluate Applications - June 2020
  • MCAG Board to Act on Recommendations and FTIP Programming - July 2020
  • Anticipated Caltrans and FHWA Approvals - September 202 0 

Following are the materials, which will be required with application submittal: