Diving Into MAP-21: Using CMAQ to Fund Bike/Ped Projects

Posted 06/05/13 by Kevin Mills in Policy

In 2012, the US Congress adopted a new bill to govern surface transportation programs through September 2014. That bill, referred to now as MAP-21, provides opportunities for creative communities to develop good networks of trails and active transportation facilities.

But the new bill came with some significant changes, and transportation planners and advocates are still coming to grips with exactly what the new bill means for local efforts to build and maintain active transportation systems such as trails, sidewalks and bike paths.

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy is leading the effort to provide education and resources related to MAP-21. In this blog series, we demonstrate how communities can leverage the programs funded by MAP-21.

In our second post of this series, we examine the Congestion Mitigation Air Quality (CMAQ) Program. CMAQ is an initiative to reduce congestion and air pollution by improving multi-modal transportation networks - that is, supporting transportation options other than driving a car.

CMAQ money is available to states and metropolitan areas that have been identified as having air quality problems, and can be used to fund bike/ped projects within an existing road or transit corridor. CMAQ funds are distributed by metropolitan planning organizations on a regional level. Some choose to program annually, and others on a multi-year basis.

Case Study: The Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) allocates CMAQ funding in the Philadelphia region. The DVRPC has funded many trail and roadway projects that are part of the regional bikeways plan. These include connections to transit stations and completion of gaps in trail networks. Today, a collaboration of environmental, health, transportation, foundation and local government officials called The Circuit is overseeing the implementation of this regional plan. For more information, visit www.circuittrails.org.

Local governments can use CMAQ funds to fill in the gaps in their networks. You can also use CMAQ to create better multi-modal connections. For example, you can establish a goal for Complete Stations - all transit stations accessible to all persons via all modes of transportation.

CMAQ is one of the largest sources of funding. We recommend you use it for the larger, multi-year projects. Just be sure that your project is transportation-focused and reduces vehicle miles travelled. That is how it will best qualify for CMAQ funds.

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy helps communities develop interconnected networks of trails and active transportation facilities. Do you have a success story involving CMAQ funds? Let us know. Do you need help identifying the best funding sources for your project? Get in touch with the RTC office near you. 

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