The U.S. Dept. of Transportation is launching a new round—the seventh since 2009—of its fiercely competitive TIGER grant program.
This year, DOT has $500 million in appropriations for the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grants. 

DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx, whoannounced TIGER VII on April 2, told reporters in a briefing, "We are looking forward to receiving some impressive applications from all over the country."

Foxx also says that DOT is going back to asking grant-seekers to submit pre-applications. That's something it did earlier in TIGER history but dropped for the past couple of rounds.

He says, "We think that's going to be helpful in making sure that communities have an opportunity to put their best foot forward."

In itsNotice of Funding Availability, DOT adds: "The pre-application helps DOT allocate staff resources for the evaluation process, allows applicants to provide identifying information about their project and assists DOT in clarifying eligibility questions before the final application is submitted."

Congress has set the maximum grant at $200 million; the minimum is $10 million, except for projects in rural areas, where the minimum is $1 million.

DOT also will hold a seminar, which it calls the "TIGER Summit," on April 16, for interested parties for potential applicants. Registration closes April 10.

TIGERWebinars will take place on April 8, 14, 23 and 28.

TIGER-assisted projects are to be important regionally or nationally. The grants are expected to be just part of projects' financial packages.

This year's deadlines are tight: pre-applications are due by May 4. Final applications are due on June 5.

If the past is a guide, DOT will be swamped with hundreds of applications from states and localities, which together will request many times the amount the department has available.

For Round VI, for example, there were 797 applications, seeking a total of $9 billion. But DOT had only $584 million to distribute. The grants,whose awards were announced last September, went to 72 projects in 46 states and the District of Columbia.