Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality


Congestion Mitigation Air Quality (CMAQ) is a federal program, whose primary goals are to improve air quality and reduce congestion. CMAQ provides funding for transportation projects or programs that will contribute to attainment or maintenance of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for ozone, carbon dioxide, and particulate matter (both PM10 and PM2.5).

With the Merced County Region designated as nonattainment for ozone and PM2.5, and attainment for PM10, the Merced County Association of Governments (MCAG) receives about $3 million a year of apportioned CMAQ funding. The Governing Board approves the programming of these CMAQ funds to eligible projects sponsored by the local agencies.

Per the federal CMAQ program guidance, project/program eligibility criteria are as follows:

  • It must be transportation related.
  • It must generate an emissions reduction. Per the California Air Resources Board cost-effectiveness calculations, CMAQ projects must show (and report) emission reduction benefit.
  • It must be located in or benefit a nonattainment or maintenance area.

Federal CMAQ Program Guidance

Program of Projects

For the past number of years, CMAQ has been programmed for a variety of purposes including transit projects and programs (i.e. expanded service pilot; public outreach and education), rideshare marketing, diesel equipment replacements, street sweeper replacements, bike/pedestrian projects, traffic flow improvements (i.e. traffic signals synchronization; roundabouts; turn lane pockets).

CMAQ Program of Projects (PDF)

Cost-Effectiveness Programming

CALL For Projects - Summer 2023

There is approximately $4.75 million of CMAQ funding and $948,000 of CRP (Carbon Reduction Program) funding available in the upcoming Federal Fiscal Years. On July 20, 2022, the MCAG Governing Board adopted the updated Goals and Procedures for Programming CMAQ Funds in order to provide guidance. The Board also authorized staff to release the CMAQ “Call for Projects” to the member jurisdictions (only the cities and the County may apply).

Per the federal CMAQ guidance, the proposed project must be transportation-related and must generate emission reduction(s) for Merced Region’s criteria pollutants (NOx, PM10, PM2.5).

All CMAQ-eligible projects are welcomed with the following exception. MCAG will not consider equipment replacement.

"Highly cost-effective" (HCE) projects, those with cost-effectiveness of $63/lb. emissions or better, are given preferential treatment through scoring. This is especially true for HCE traffic flow improvements.

Examples of eligible projects include:

  • Transit capital / improvements / management systems; 
  • Ridesharing, carpooling and vanpooling; 
  • Active transportation (bicycle and/or pedestrian) projects- must be new facilities; repair, maintenance, or upgrade of existing facilities are not eligible; 
  • Certain traffic flow improvements (i.e. roundabout, auxiliary lane, signals synchronization);
  • Dirt paving of facilities that meet usage thresholds; and 
  • EV charging stations that meet usage threshold.

The deadline for application submittal is December 21, 2022.


  • CMAQ "Call for Projects" -  Release July 24, 2023
  • Application Deadline - September 8, 2023.
  • CMAQ Committee to Evaluate Applications - Septmeber 2023
  • Caltrans Evaluation of CRP Candidate Projects - October 2023 
  • MCAG Board to Act on Recommendations and FTIP Programming - November 16, 2023
  • Anticipated Caltrans and FHWA Approvals - January 2024 

Following are the materials, which will be required with application submittal: