The Dept. of Transportation has awarded $511 million to projects in 33 states and Puerto Rico in the third round of the department's popular TIGER grants, which help to fund an array of infrastructure and other transportation projects around the country.

The Round III Transportation Investment Generating Economic Results grant winners, which DOT announced on Dec. 15, included 46 projects. 

As with the two previous TIGER grant rounds, demand for federal money far outpaced the amount available.  States, cities and other agencies submitted 828 applications, requesting about $14.1 billion, “which was no match for the $511 million we had available,” said DOT Secretary Ray LaHood.

LaHood told reporters in a conference call that road and bridge projects won the largest share of the Round III total, receiving 48% of the total dollars available. Transit projects received 29%, ports got 12%, freight rail won 10% and passenger rail received 2%.

The largest grants were $20 million each, to Chicago's Blue Line transit upgrade and bike share program; Virginia's Interstate 96 high-occupancy-toll (HOT) lane project; St. Louis road improvements around the city's landmark Arch; an extension to southern California's State Route 91 express lanes.

The grant to California will support a large federal Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act loan, which DOT says will fund as much as one-third of the $1.3-billion total cost of the eight-mile SR-91 extension.

As directed by Congress, $150 million of the latest TIGER round total went to projects in rural areas.

Before the TIGER III funds can be obligated and construction begun, DOT must reach formal agreements with the states and other grant awardees.

LaHood said that work is under way on 58 projects funded by the first two TIGER rounds, and groundbreaking is slated on 13 more projects over the next six months.

DOT officials moved quickly to evaluate the Round III applications--winners were announced only about six weeks after the Oct. 31 application deadline.

The TIGER program was launched under the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.