Twenty-five states have filed 77 applications totaling more than $8.5 billion for the U.S. Dept. of Transportation's next round of high-speed-rail grants. Many applicants will be disappointed: DOT only has about $2.3 billion to distribute.

The department expects to announce the winners of the new round of grants "in early fall," says Rob Kulat, a spokesman with DOT's Federal Railroad Administration.

Odds of winning are long, but not as daunting as in FRA's initial high-speed-rail grant competition, when the agency was inundated with $57 billion in applications for $8 billion in grants.

DOT officials announced the winners of that first round in January. Funding was provided in the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The second-round money comes from DOT's regular 2010 appropriations. Awards will be made in two categories. DOT has about $2.1 billion for rail corridor programs and $245 million for individual projects on which construction is ready to start.

For round two, 10 states filed 20 applications valued at a combined $7.8 billion for corridor grants. Eighteen states submitted 57 applications totaling $700 million for specific rail projects.