Talk about "fast track." Applications for the next round of federal high-speed-rail grants, totaling more than $2.3 billion, are due by Aug. 6, and winners will be announced by Sept. 30, the U.S. Dept. of Transportation says.

In announcing the timetable on June 28, DOT noted that the new grants include $2.1 billion for high-speed-rail corridor proposals and $245 million for specific construction projects within corridors.

The new round's funding comes from DOT's fiscal 2010 appropriations. It follows the hotly competitive first round, in which DOT announced the award of $8 billion in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) aid, divided among corridors and projects in more than 20 states.

Competition also is expected to be keen for the new $2.3 billion, even though applicants this time must contribute a minimum 20% matching share. The $8 billion in ARRA rail funds did not require a state match, though at least some of the successful applicants in that round did pledge their own funds.

The department's Federal Railroad Administration spelled out details of the new rail round in two Notices of Funding Availability, which will be published soon in the Federal Register.