Some federal infrastructure programs are suffering deep congressional spending cuts, but the Dept. of Transportation's TIGER grant program is a survivor. DOT has just announced that pre-applications are due on Oct. 3 for a $527-million third round of the popular infrastructure grant program, whose full name is Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery.

DOT says that its pre-application system for round three will open on or around Aug. 22. It plans a seminar and webcast on July 18, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. for those interested in applying.

Final applications for round three are due by Oct. 31.

Judging by the response to the first two TIGER rounds, DOT will be flooded with applications for the $527 million available in round three.

Round two, whose winners were announced last October, drew more than $19 billion in proposals for the $585 million awarded.

Round one, funded by $1.5 billion from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, attracted some $60 billion in applications. DOT announced the first-round winners in February 2010.
Applicants for round three must contribute non-federal matching funds equal to at least 20% of an urban-area project's cost.

For rural projects, DOT can fund up to 100% of a project's cost. Congress directed that $140 million of the round-three funds go to projects in rural areas.

Of the total funds available in the new round, up to $150 million can go for Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act loan assistance. TIFIA aid, which includes loans and loan guarantees, has been used as one element in financing packages for major transportation projects around the country.

TIGER projects are to have significant impact on regional or national transportation. Winning projects span nearly all transportation modes, including highways, bridges, transit, freight rail, ports and bicycle and pedestrian paths.

Spurred by House Republicans' desire for sharp spending cuts, other construction program have seen sharp reductions in fiscal 2011, including DOT high-speed passenger rail and General Services Administration public buildings construction.