Press Release, 10-12-11
Five-year, $411 million transportation program funds 115 projects to reduce congestion, improve air quality in metropolitan Chicago
Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning approves federal surface transportation investments that support implementation of the GO TO 2040 comprehensive regional plan
CHICAGO, October 12, 2011 -- Residents of metropolitan Chicago will benefit from improved transit, roads, bicycle, and pedestrian facilities through $411 million in federal transportation funds targeted over the next five years to support the GO TO 2040 comprehensive regional plan's goals for reducing congestion and improving air quality.
Allocated by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP), these funds are made available through the federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) Improvement Program. Projects were selected and reviewed publicly by CMAP committees made up of transportation experts and stakeholders. The FY2012-16 CMAQ program became official today after the CMAP Board and MPO (Metropolitan Planning Organization) Policy Committee voted to approve the projects in a joint meeting.
See above for the full list of projects and related materials. Highlights include cleaner diesel engines for Metra, CTA station improvements (including Clark/Division, LaSalle/Division, and consolidation of Randolph/Wabash and Madison/Wabash into a new Washington/Wabash station), Pace express bus service enhancements (including a major I-90 corridor collaboration with the Illinois Tollway), and dozens of road intersection and bicycle-pedestrian improvements across the region.
Collectively, the projects are estimated to eliminate 709.8 kilograms daily of volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions, which are among the primary precursors to ground-level ozone that is harmful to breathe.
"The GO TO 2040 plan emphasizes maintaining and modernizing our current transportation system, and the FY2012-16 CMAQ program reflects those regional priorities," said CMAP Board chairman Gerald Bennett, mayor of Palos Hills. "These projects will have very tangible benefits for residents, helping them get around more freely, improving the quality of air that we all breathe, and supporting economic growth across the region."
The 115 projects will address all facets of the region's transportation network, improving highway corridors, building new bicycle paths, and developing new transit service, notably along the soon-to-be-rebuilt Jane Addams Tollway. Reviewed and analyzed by committees of subject-matter experts and stakeholders based on competitive proposals, the proposed projects respond to priorities recommended by GO TO 2040, which emphasizes investments to maintain and modernize the existing transportation system, adopt best practices in new technologies, establish seamless coordination between transportation modes, and include transit components as part of major highway capital projects.
"These CMAQ projects have been carefully programmed to yield maximum returns for our region and its communities," said CMAP MPO Policy Committee member Jeffrey Schielke, mayor of Batavia. "It requires a spirit of cooperation and a focus on the long-range future. CMAP is the region's federally designated Metropolitan Planning Organization, and on behalf of the committee, I would like to thank all the organizations that made the effort to submit proposals."
CMAP encouraged project proposals from the public and private sectors. To be federally eligible, each project must have as its "sponsor" a state agency or unit of government, such as a county, municipality, township, park district, forest preserve district, or library district. Most projects require an 80:20 split of federal to local dollars. CMAP received more than 350 applications requesting over $930 million in federal funds.
The CMAQ project guidelines describe eligible activities that include:
Transit Improvements (e.g., new rail systems, bus service or vanpools; projects that increase the convenience of transferring between transit services; transit equipment that increases the frequency or operating speed of bus or rail)
Commuter Parking Facilities (e.g., new or expanded park-n-ride or other parking structures)
Traffic Flow Improvements (e.g., roadwork that removes specific bottlenecks)
Intersection Improvements (e.g., to ease flow through existing intersections by adding turn lanes and/or traffic signals, including signal synchronization equipment)
Bicycle and Pedestrian Facilities (e.g., lanes, trails, or programs that facilitate cycling or walking as an alternative to automobiles)
Diesel Emissions Reduction (e.g., enhancements or replacements of vehicles or locomotives to improve engine idling, use lower-emission fuels, or run more cleanly)
Other (e.g., projects that don't fit into the above categories but result in reduced emissions, such as the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency's Ozone Alert public information program, rideshare incentive programs, interoperable emergency communications equipment, and programs to reduce emissions related to "cold starts" of engines)
"Efficient governance is among GO TO 2040's four primary themes, and CMAP is committed to transparent deliberations in the programming of public resources," said CMAP executive director Randy Blankenhorn. "The regional plan is guided by the principle that strategic investments such as this depend on openness and accountability. We look forward to working closely with the implementing agencies to track projects' progress and to continually improve these processes."
The CMAQ program was created in 1991 as part of the federal Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) and has been continued by the successor transportation bills known as the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) in June 1998 and the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) in August 2005.
About CMAP. The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) is the comprehensive regional planning organization for the northeastern Illinois counties of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry, and Will. By state and federal law, CMAP is responsible for producing the region's official, integrated plan for land use and transportation. The agency's innovative GO TO 2040 planning campaign develops and implements strategies to shape the region's transportation system and development patterns, while also addressing the natural environment, economic development, housing, education, human services, and other quality-of-life factors. See www.cmap.illinois.gov for more information.