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Decades of research shows that expanding roads doesn’t provide lasting congestion relief. More lanes means more traffic.

Federal support announced for great projects

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On Wednesday the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) announced 66 projects will receive federal funding over the next five years to reduce congestion, improve air quality and enhance non-motorized travel in the city and suburbs.

The projects are being funded by two federal programs that have been critical to making biking, walking and transit more safe and convenient in the Chicago region: the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) Improvement Program and the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP).

Of the 66 projects being funded, more than three-quarters are biking, walking and transit projects, as opposed to projects solely designed to improve car traffic flow.

Highlights include $125 million for modernizing CTA’s Red and Purple Lines, nearly $5 million for continued Divvy expansion and $4 million for bike paths in Lake County Forest Preserves. See the full list of CMAQ and TAP projects.

Since the early 1990s, CMAQ has played a leading role in strengthening Chicagoland’s active transportation network, funding projects like the Navy Pier Flyover, suburban bike trails, Divvy and CTA station repairs.

Over the last four years the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) has built more than 100 miles of advances bike lanes – more than any other city in the country – with a $32 million CMAQ grant.

Earlier this week, the Tribune reported only about half of that grant has been spent, so it will continue to be the largest source of funding for Chicago’s bike network over the next few years.  

While CMAQ focuses broadly on reducing congestion and improving air quality, TAP specifically funds biking, walking and access to transit infrastructure.

Recent projects to receive funding include the Cal-Sag Trail, the 43rd Street Bike-Ped Access Bridge to the Lakefront Trail, the Addison Underbridge Connector (construction begins in 2016) and many others. 

Unfortunately, we've learned the program has recently become a bargaining chip in the U.S. House of Representatives during discussions about a long-term highway and transit bill. Any cuts or policy changes could be crippling for a program that's sorely needed to meet increasing demand for safe biking and walking options.

Click here to sign a letter urging Congress to continue to fund biking and walking projects in the Chicago region.