A 21st Century transportation system requires strategic investments that support economic growth and quality of life. The transportation network is one of our region's most important assets, key to our economic prosperity. While our transportation system enjoys a global reputation, it is aging quickly and falling behind other industrialized parts of the world.
Performance-Based Funding. CMAP believes taxpayers will support investing in a transportation system that improves their quality of life. To accomplish this, Illinois needs to lead the national effort to implement performance-based funding of highway and bridge projects.
Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ). CMAP administers CMAQ, a federally funded program of surface transportation improvements. The current five-year program totals $582 million. To help implement GO TO 2040 through the CMAQ program, CMAP helps reviewers prioritize proposed projects based on how they support the goals and action areas of the regional plan.
Surface Transportation Program (STP). Through its subregional Councils of Mayors (COMs), CMAP administers the region's STP. COMs are defined by specific geographic boundaries, with six in suburban Cook County and one for each of the five collar counties. Each Council of Mayors receives an annual STP allocation and is responsible for programming those funds. Council projects must meet all federal eligibility requirements, including being located on a federal-aid eligible route, and must be sponsored and implemented by a local community within the council.
Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP). With the passage of Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21), Congress created the new TAP to support non-motorized transportation. CMAP is using a competitive process to select projects to fund under this program.
Transportation Improvement Program (TIP). As metropolitan Chicago's agenda for surface transportation, the TIP lists all federally funded projects and regionally significant, non-federally funded projects programmed for implementation in the next four years. The TIP helps both the transportation community and the general public track the use of local, state, and federal transportation funds in support of implementing GO TO 2040.
Construction Planning. CMAP convenes transportation operators in the region and neighboring states to ensure that they are aware of, and can plan for, the impacts of each other's scheduled construction projects.
Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS). CMAP promotes the use of ITS, including a wide range of technologies that improve the movement of people and goods. The goal of ITS deployment is to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the transportation system through such actions as increasing traveler safety and reducing congestion. These tools improve the operations and management of our existing transportation facilities.
More About Strategic Investment
Achieving a modern, well-functioning system of roads and public transit simply makes good economic sense and is essential for a high quality of life. Businesses want efficient and effective transportation infrastructure, providing efficient movement of goods and access to a skilled workforce. Residents want transportation options and ready access to a variety of housing, employment, recreational, and other opportunities.
Our transportation system is critical to quality of life and to the Chicago region's competitive advantage. Yet in many ways the system is declining, which can be seen in worsening traffic congestion, cuts to public transit service, deferred maintenance on roads and bridges, and antiquated buses, trains, and stations. Some of this is simply inadequate investment in transportation infrastructure, but another part of it is excessive costs, narrow and short-sighted thinking about transportation investment decisions, and a lack of consensus about priorities.
To tackle these problems, the region needs to make strategic investments in the transportation system. The money we have must be spent more wisely, using performance-driven criteria rather than arbitrary formulas or politically-based calculations. Transportation implementers should prioritize projects that maintain and modernize the existing system, while expensive new capacity projects should be built only when the need is great. Examples of enhancements and modernizations that should be pursued include more attractive and comfortable buses and trains that improve the passenger experience, better traveler information systems, targeted transit extensions and arterial improvements, and multimodal approaches such as integrating bicycling and pedestrian accommodations in roadway design.
At the same time, additional funding is needed to bring our transportation system to world-class stature. Federal and state gas taxes, our traditional sources of transportation revenue, are losing their purchasing power to inflation as well as higher fuel efficiency standards. A long-term replacement for these sources is needed, and must provide enhanced revenues generated primarily by the users of the system.