How Merced Found Federal Grants for Bike Lanes

Tapping into the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement grant program has allowed Merced, CA, to utilize some of the U.S. DOT’s $30 billion federal highway fund for city bike lane improvements. Learn how you can access this source of grant funds...


What Happened?

With the help of an $88,286 grant from the federal government, Merced, California, will be adding new bike lanes throughout the town. The federal grant is in addition to matching funds for a total of $279,725 to paint the new bike lanes.

The Goal

Many cities nationwide are tapping into federal grants to supplement local and state funding for redevelopment and improvement projects. When these projects are first launched, most municipalities are creating public-private partnerships or outsourcing the tasks to companies that must bid for the contract. In the case of Merced, the lowest bid for the bike lane project was $304,364 which was higher than could be covered by an original grant acquired by the city.

Thus, the Merced County Association of Governments reassessed the project’s needs and found a way to qualify for another source of funding through the U.S. Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program.

The federal funds will help support the striping of new bike lanes, maintenance of existing bike lanes and addition of roadway markings to keep cyclists safe and drivers aware of their presence on the road. A concrete median island may be removed, more bike lane signage added and minor pavement repairs completed if there is enough funding.

The bike lane program in Merced is part of its 2013 Bicycle Transportation Plan that requires $2.4 million over three years to complete 106 projects in a five-year span. Merced plans to take full advantage of local, regional, state and federal sources of funding to ensure the project is completed on time.

Grant Opportunities

The Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program through the Federal Highway Administration works to assist states and cities in reducing the amount of allowable vehicle tailpipe emissions with the addition of programs to increase greener transportation options. The program specifically supports surface transportation projects that focus on air quality improvements through congestion relief. The rising popularity of bike lanes and bike-sharing programs indicate a trend in greener redevelopments on city streets.

Since July 2012, the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program has allocated $30 billion for 29,000 transportation-environmental projects to state and local organizations. Each year, the program will offer $2.2 billion nationwide for a variety of air quality-related initiatives.

Make It Work

The Federal Highway Administration appropriates funding from the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program through a formula based on population, severity of pollution in the local ozone and carbon monoxide levels reported.

When a state receives funding through the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program, it can funnel the money into surface transportation, highway system, interstate maintenance, bridges, highway safety improvements or recreational trails projects. The funding placed in each department, however, may not be more than 50 percent of the total funds received by the federal government that year to ensure there is diversity in projects. Appropriate use of federal funding includes:

  • Advanced truck stop electrification systems
  • Improvements to transportation systems management
  • Purchase of integrated emergency communication equipment
  • Acquisition of diesel retrofits
  • Outreach activities to encourage diesel retrofits

Bike Mania

Gov1 has followed similar bike-related programs that make use of federal funds to reduce dependency on motor vehicle use.