Northeastern Illinois does not attain national ambient air quality standards for certain pollutants. It is classified as a moderate non-attainment area for the 8-hour ozone standard, and a non-attainment area for the annual fine particulate matter (PM2.5) standard. The region must implement a transportation program which will help to reduce levels of these pollutants to national standards.
As part of the transportation planning and programming process, CMAP staff evaluates the impact of proposed transportation activities on the region's air quality. This evaluation, called a conformity analysis, is submitted to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency(IEPA) and US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) for their review before a long-range regional transportation plan or Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) is approved. The conformity analysis must demonstrate that the emissions resulting from the plan or TIP meet the requirements of (i.e., "conform with") the regulations governing air quality.
Some individual transportation projects must be evaluated for local air quality impacts, commonly called a "hot spot analysis." Projects that are subject to hot spot analysis are called, "projects of air quality concern." They involve significant levels of diesel vehicle traffic, or are identified in a PM2.5 or PM10 State Implementation Plan as a localized air quality concern. Hot spot analysis is conducted by the agency implementing the project as part of the environmental assessment process.
Interagency consultation is required under the transportation conformity rule, as described in 40 CFR 51.402. In the northeastern Illinois region, these procedures are addressed through the Tier II Consultation process. Decisions made through this interagency consultation process guide the MPO in making conformity determinations.
Current Conformity Analysis
The current conformity analysis, covering the 2040 Regional Transportation Plan and FY 2010 – 2015 Transportation Improvement Program, consists of these documents:
- Transportation Conformity Analysis for the PM2.5 and 8-Hour Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards (PDF) 3.5 MB
- Socioeconomic Validation and Forecasting Primer (PDF)
- Travel Model Documentation (PDF
The conformity analysis is updated semi-annually. Updates are initiated with the submittal of TIP changes by project sponsors. The staff analysis of the required changes is reviewed by the Transportation Committee and released for a 30-day public comment period. Comments are addressed and reviewed by the Transportation Committee and approved by the MPO Policy Committee. USDOT and IDOT provide final approval of the amendments.
- A list of conformed projects by scenario year is available. Updated March 2013.
- Semi-Annual GO TO 2040/TIP Conformity Analysis & TIP Amendment. Updated March 2013.
- TIP Conformity Analysis and TIP Amendment Approval letters
- Conformity FAQs
For More Information
To learn more about the effects of air pollution, please see the following documents on the United States Environmental Protection Agency's web site:
- Ozone: Good Up High, Bad Nearby (PDF)
- Smog – Who Does It Hurt? What you need to know about ozone and your health (PDF)
- Particle Pollution and Your Health
To learn more about conformity requirements, please see the following documents on the Federal Highway Administration's web site: