CMAQ: Having Some Fun While Trashing a Program

Post date: Feb 3, 2012 8:35:22 PM

CMAQ – the Congestion Management and Air Quality program – has been a real game changer for state DOTs, making them think about air quality issues and about creative, often non-highway, transportation solutions. What it hasn’t had is a name that really reflects the statutory language, legislative intent, and actual practice of the program.

For various reasons, some transportation agencies and some members of Congress don’t like CMAQ. So what would you do if you wanted to trash the program – and have some fun while doing it?

The drafters of the Mica bill must have had a few laughs while putting in a provision that says that states can use CMAQ to build new highway capacity if the project “is likely to contribute to the mitigation of congestion or the improvement of air quality.” [Sec. 1108]

This of course is the absolute opposite of the longtime purpose of the program – but arguably fits the name! Chuckle, chuckle.