Highways and transportation facilities have significant effects on the natural environment and on the quality of life in communities. Through Federal-aid programs such as CMAQ, we work with our partners to ensure that highway and transit facilities enhance the natural environment.
The CMAQ program can aid communities in improving the quality of the natural environment by reducing transportation-related pollution. The FHWA and FTA partner with States and MPOs to strengthen the links between transportation investments and communities by supporting and promoting increased transportation options and programs and projects to reduce environmental impacts.
The country's transportation system faces many special challenges. Lane mileage has increased slowly, while highway travel has increased rapidly. Increased congestion is a result of this disparity. The implementation of an integrated ITS infrastructure system with CMAQ funds is just one of the underlying strategies and initiatives associated with achieving the strategic objective of reduced congestion by improving the operations and efficiency of our surface transportation system.
Other challenges include the growth in the demand for travel, which serves to partially counteract the emissions benefits of cleaner cars and cleaner fuels. In addition, as the new NAAQS for ozone and fine particulate matter begin to phase in, States will face new challenges in meeting the air quality targets. In nonattainment and maintenance areas, the impending impacts of potentially stricter NAAQS are expected to increase the challenge of meeting the transportation conformity requirements. FHWA and FTA aim to reduce mobile source emissions by encouraging the use of less polluting transportation options and supporting the deployment of fuel- and emission- efficient vehicles. Many of these activities are eligible for CMAQ funds.
While the FHWA and FTA are proud of the contribution the CMAQ Program has made to reductions in mobile source emissions and congestion, the CMAQ Program's emissions impacts must be recognized as one relatively small part of the solution to a large and complex problem.
Over the first 9 years CMAQ has opened up the project selection process, helped reduce mobile source emissions and helped slow the rate of growth of congestion in some of the nation's largest cities. The goals of improved mobility and environmental protection are a delicate balancing act repeated throughout the country every day.
Given the ever changing demands on the funding program, air quality standards and the transportation system, CMAQ will continue to provide improved funding opportunities to meet these challenges.