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Funded through the Federal Congestion Mitigation & Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) Program

Applications currently not being accepted.

The Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program (CMAQ) is a federal program that funds projects and programs that improve air quality and reduce traffic congestion. It is jointly administered by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) in consultation with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Under the guidance of SJTPO, the Local CMAQ Initiatives advances projects that will advance air quality. These funds will be available for projects and programs throughout the SJTPO region through a competitive process. There is up to $5.700 million available for CMAQ-eligible projects and $2.700 million available for CRP-eligible projects over three Federal Fiscal Years (FFY), including 2025, 2026, and 2027 that will be programmed into the Transportation Improvement Program (TIP). Candidate projects and programs may be submitted to SJTPO during the solicitation period held once every three years. Eligible applications are then ranked by the CMAQ & CRP Selection Committee, and projects selected for funding are to be implemented by the sponsoring agency.

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Program Overview

SJTPO solicits projects every three years to support regional goals, which are specified through this improvement program as a reduction of transportation emissions and an improvement of air quality. The Project Evaluation Form guides how projects are screened for eligibility and implementation. 

The recent solicitation period supports projects that will be implemented over three Federal Fiscal Years (FFY), including 2025, 2026, and 2027. The solicitation period began in April 2023, and applications were due in August 2023. The Carbon Reduction Program (CRP) has been combined with the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) Improvement Program beginning FFY 2023. Applicants do not need to specify for which funding program they are requesting consideration. A single Project Application is applicable for the joint solicitation. Although eligible projects and activities are substantially similar between the two programs, please review the differences through the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) CMAQ Reference or as listed below.

The Application Process

SJTPO solicits projects for a three-year period. The current application is for project advancement in Federal Fiscal Year (FFY) 2025, 2026, and 2027.

  • April 12, 2023: Notification of Call for CMAQ & CRP projects
  • June 27, 2023: Last Day to Request Assistance for Required Emissions Analysis
  • August 2, 2023: Last Day to Request a Meeting with SJTPO Staff
  • August 16, 2023: Applications Due with All Materials
  • November 2023: Recommendation of new CMAQ & CRP Projects

SJTPO CMAQ & CRP Project Selection Process

Following the application deadline, applications will be selected via a competitive process. The steps in the selection process are as follows:

  1. SJTPO staff reviews applications for clarity, completeness, and eligibility.
  2. Applications are evaluated & ranked by the CMAQ & CRP Selection Committee established by the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) based upon the following goals:
    1. Carbon Dioxide Emission Reduction
    2. Air Quality Benefit
    3. Environmental Screening
    4. Preferred Project Type
    5. Deliverability
  3. The CMAQ & CRP Selection Committee will forward the recommended Project List to the SJTPO Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), which then prepares a recommended program for the SJTPO Policy Board.
  4. The SJTPO Policy Board acts upon the TAC-endorsed CMAQ & CRP project list.

After final approval and notification of the CMAQ or CRP award, the sponsor is responsible for implementing and completing the project. This includes any public involvement, planning, design, construction, etc. All project phases are eligible for CMAQ or CRP funds, and costs are 100% reimbursable. Projects not implemented in a timely manner run the risk of losing funds. In the case of an uncompleted project, the return of any federal funds expended might be required.

Application Requirements

The CMAQ funds are available for projects involving government, non-profit, and private entities that serve the SJTPO region. Additionally, public agencies must be certified as eligible to receive federal funds through NJDOT. Private firms and non-profits may partner with a public agency sponsor through a process called Public-Private Partnership (PPP). CMAQ projects submitted by PPPs must benefit the public by reducing emissions while not creating a competitive advantage for one private entity over another. More information on PPPs may be found in Section VII.C. of the federal CMAQ guidance. Private individuals are not eligible to apply. Project sponsors must be certified by NJDOT to be eligible to receive federal funds. If the project sponsor is not a subregional partner of SJTPO, eligibility must be considered project-by-project.

Proposals for CMAQ or CRP funding should include a precise description of the project, providing information on its size, scope, location, and timetable. The description should be as specific as possible; this may include citing the location and timing of traffic counts or submission dates for required products of the federal aid program. In addition to this, supporting data, submission schedule, cost estimate for each phase of work, and any preliminary work, such as conceptual design or planning, that has been completed should be included in the application. Applicants should also certify their familiarity with the NJDOT Local Aid process and describe previous experience obtaining USDOT funding. A resolution of support is required by the NJDOT for a proposed project to be eligible for consideration. The proposed project objective should be included in the Resolution of Support. Include project details such as specific improvements (i.e., vehicle purchase and signal or infrastructure enhancements) and location. An example of a Resolution of Support may be provided upon request. In addition to this, other supporting materials such as concept sketches, letters of support, and maps showing environmental features may be accepted to support the project. The required materials to be submitted alongside the application are as follows.

  • Emissions Analysis
  • Line-Item Cost Estimate
  • Detailed Project Schedule
  • Map of Project Location
  • Resolution of Support

Emissions Analysis

An assessment of the project’s expected emission reduction benefits should be completed prior to project selection to better inform the selection of CMAQ or CRP projects. Wherever possible, quantitative analyses of emissions impacts should be included in the proposal. The analysis should report, at minimum, the reduction in ozone precursors (NOx and VOC) in kilograms per day or per year, along with the expected lifespan of the emission reduction. Additional pollutants, including carbon monoxide or particulate matter, may be reported as well. Qualitative assessments of emission benefits may be provided only when it is not possible to accurately quantify emission benefits; for example, for projects focused on public education, marketing, and other outreach efforts. Groups of complimentary projects may be analyzed together. Emission increases for any type of pollutant (including carbon monoxide or particulate matter) must be reported if present. Details regarding emissions estimation may be found in Section VIII.A of the FHWA CMAQ Guidance.

SJTPO may assist applicants in calculating emissions reduction estimates for many types of projects. The CMAQ Emissions Calculator Toolkit can be found by following this link and under Related Links on the right side of this page.

Eligible Projects

In general, projects are eligible for CMAQ funding consideration if they are intended to reduce emissions in the region, either through direct means (such as converting to low-emission vehicles) or through indirect means (such as traffic signal improvements that improve vehicle flow and reducing congestion or outreach programs to promote carpooling). The air quality benefits of projects should be well-supported by recent evidence of their effects on emissions; however, innovative projects without supporting precedent data may also be considered. The following project type list is not intended to be comprehensive, as other transportation projects that reduce emissions may be eligible. Many project types are eligible only under certain conditions. Please refer to the Related Links on the right side of this page for more details on any of the following project types.

Projects that would increase transit capacity and ridership are eligible, including new transit facilities, new vehicles, diesel engine retrofits, operating assistance for new or expanded transit service, and other transit projects.

Including the construction of bicycle and pedestrian facilities that are not exclusively recreational (as they must reduce vehicle trips and therefore vehicle emissions), outreach promoting safe bicycle use, and other bicycle and pedestrian programs. As well as shared micromobility, including bikesharing and shared scooter systems.

  1. Traditional Improvements – Traditional traffic flow improvements, such as the construction of roundabouts, HOV lanes, and left-turn or other managed lanes, are eligible for CMAQ funding provided they demonstrate net emissions benefits through congestion relief.
  2. Value/Congestion Pricing – Congestion pricing is a market-based mechanism that allows tolls or parking pricing to rise and fall depending on available capacity and demand.

Regional multimodal traveler information systems, traffic signal control systems, freeway management systems, electronic toll-collection systems, transit management systems, incident management programs, and other Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) projects are eligible. This may include projects such as the following.

  • Traffic monitoring through vehicle detectors and closed-circuit video equipment
  • Traffic management through synchronized signals and activated traffic control systems
  • Variable message and speed limit signs
  • Regional traffic control centers
  • Provision of real-time roadway information to vehicles and travelers
  • 511 telephone services and websites
  • Road weather information systems
  • Traffic incident and work zone management programs
  • Installation of V2I communication equipment such as electronic open road tolling

Program funds may be used to support projects involving alternative or renewable fuels. Typically, stand-alone purchase of any fuel – alternative or otherwise – is not an eligible CMAQ cost. Generally, CMAQ support for alternative fuel vehicle projects can be broken into the following areas:

  1. Infrastructure – Except as noted below, establishing publicly-owned fueling facilities and other infrastructure needed to fuel alternative-fuel vehicles is an eligible expense unless privately-owned fueling stations are in place and reasonably accessible. Fueling facilities can dispense one or more of the alternative fuels identified in section 301 of the 1992 Energy Policy Act or biodiesel or provide recharging for electric vehicles. Additionally, CMAQ funds may support converting a private fueling facility to support alternative fuels through a public-private partnership agreement. Finally, the modernization or rehabilitation of a lock and dam, or a marine highway corridor, connector, or crossing if functionally connected to the Federal-aid highway system and likely to contribute to the attainment or maintenance of national ambient air quality standards (capped at 10% of CMAQ apportionment); and [§ 11115(1) and (2); 23 U.S.C. 149(b)(10), (b)(11), and (c)(4)].
  2. Non-transit Vehicles – The CMAQ funds may be used to purchase publicly-owned alternative fuel vehicles, including passenger vehicles, service trucks, street cleaners, and others. However, only publicly owned vehicles providing a dominant transportation function can be fully funded, such as paratransit vans, incident management support vehicles, refuse haulers, and others. Costs associated with converting fleets to run on alternative fuels are also eligible. When non-transit vehicles are purchased through PPPs, only the cost difference between alternative fuel vehicles and comparable conventional fuel vehicles is eligible. Such vehicles should be fueled by one of the alternative fuels identified in section 301 of the 1992 Energy Policy Act or biodiesel. Eligible projects also include alternatives to diesel engines and vehicles. Alternative fuel vehicle projects that are implemented as diesel retrofits and involve the replacement of an operable engine – not a standard fleet turnover – are eligible.
  3. Hybrid Vehicles – Certain hybrid vehicles that have lower emissions rates than their non-hybrid counterparts may be eligible for CMAQ investment. Projects involving heavier vehicles, including refuse haulers and delivery trucks, also may be appropriate for program support. Eligibility should be based on a comparison of the emissions projections of these larger candidate vehicles and other comparable models. Vehicle refueling infrastructure that would reduce emissions from nonroad vehicles and nonroad engines used in construction projects or port-related freight operations.

These efforts are defined as vehicle replacement, repowering (replacing an engine with a cleaner diesel engine, alternative fuels, etc.), rebuilding an engine, or other technologies determined by the EPA as appropriate for reducing emissions from diesel engines. Diesel engine retrofits are noted in the guidance as typically being cost-effective. The purchase of diesel replacements, or medium-duty or heavy-duty zero-emission vehicles, and related charging equipment. This may include projects such as the following.

  • Acquisition of retrofitted vehicles
  • Installation of tailpipe emissions control devices
  • Provision of diesel-related outreach activities

Idle reduction projects must primarily benefit the SJTPO area, and both on-board (i.e. auxiliary power units, direct fired heaters, etc.) and off-board projects may be considered.

Freight projects that reduce emissions fall generally into two categories: primary efforts that target emissions directly or secondary projects that reduce net emissions. Successful primary projects could include new diesel engine technology or retrofits of vehicles or engines. Secondary projects reduce emissions through modifications or additions to infrastructure and the ensuing modal shift.

Transportation Control Measures (TCM) are strategies that will reduce transportation-related emissions by reducing vehicle use or improving traffic flow. Examples include improved public transit, traffic flow improvements and high-occupancy vehicle lanes, shared ride services, pedestrian/bicycle facilities, and flexible work schedules.

Travel Demand Management (TDM) includes activities that focus on physical assets and services that provide real-time information on network performance and support better decision-making for travelers choosing modes, times, routes, and locations. Eligible activities must be aimed at reducing single-occupancy vehicle travel, and include fringe parking, traveler information services, shuttle services, guaranteed ride home programs, carpools and vanpools, traffic calming measures, parking pricing, variable road pricing, telecommuting, and teleworking, employer-based commuter choice programs, and other TDM projects.

  1. Carpooling – Includes activities related to marketing existing, expanded, or new carpools, as well as eligible operating expenses.
  2. Vanpooling – Includes activities related to marketing existing, expanded, or new vanpools, as well as capital costs, including purchasing or leasing vans for use in vanpools and eligible operating expenses.
  3. Carsharing – These efforts involve the pooling of efficient, low-emission vehicles provided to travelers who have the occasional need for a vehicle but not the constant, daily necessity that demands ownership.

Outreach to educate the public, community leaders, and potential project sponsors about connections among trip making and transportation mode choices, traffic congestion, and air quality. Public education and outreach can help communities reduce emissions and congestion by inducing drivers to change their transportation choices.

Transportation Management Associations (TMA) are organizations that promote rideshare programs, transit, shuttles, or other measures. Eligible expenses include TMA start-up costs and up to 5 years of operating assistance.

Such projects include retrofitting vehicles and fleets with water and oil heaters and installing electrical outlets and equipment in publicly owned garages or fleet storage facilities.

Such projects include training and educational development for the transportation workforce that will result in emissions reductions.

Projects must establish either publicly or privately owned Inspection/Maintenance (I&M) facilities. Eligible activities include construction of facilities, purchase of equipment, I&M program development, and one-time start-up activities, such as updating quality assurance software or developing a mechanic training curriculum.

Projects that are intended to reduce emissions but do not yet have supporting data may be eligible. FHWA has supported and funded some of these projects as demonstrations to determine their benefits and costs. Such innovative strategies are not intended to bypass the definition of basic project eligibility but seek to better define the projects’ future role in strategies to reduce emissions.

For vehicle acquisitions, only the incremental cost of the difference in price between the alternative-fueled vehicle and a comparable conventional fuel vehicle will be covered. The estimated eligible portion of future vehicle purchases must be prorated based on the projected share of costs attributable to generating air quality benefits. CMAQ or CRP-funded projects should have independent utility; that is, they must have standalone emissions benefits that do not depend upon other uncompleted projects.

As under the FAST Act, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), enacted as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), directs MPOs to give priority to cost-effective projects; that is, projects with the greatest emissions reduction per dollar funded. Secondary benefits may also be considered in the selection process, but the primary criteria will be the unit cost of the emissions reduction. Secondary selection factors include congestion relief, greenhouse gas reductions, safety, system preservation, access to opportunity, sustainable development and freight, reduced single-occupancy vehicle reliance, multimodal benefits, and others. For more information on how projects are evaluated, please see the Project Evaluation Form used by the CMAQ & CRP Project Selection Committee. For technical assistance in planning, design, construction, preserving, and improving public roads, and guidance of Federal funds, please see the BIL FHWA Technical Assistance & Local Support.

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