At a meeting of the Washington, DC Transportation Planning Board on Wednesday I learned that there will be a third round of the federal government’s TIGER transportation grant program.

The popular and extremely competitive grants can be used for almost any transportation idea, provided applicants make the case that their project is more deserving than others around the country. Colorado won grants in both the previous rounds: $10 million in TIGER I to support the US 36 BRT project, and about $1.5 million in TIGER II to support planning for the Denver TOD program and Colorado Sustainable Main Streets Initiative. Other cities have received TIGER grants of up to $105 million for things like streetcars, train stations, and bridge replacements.

The recently-passed federal budget deal includes $528 million for a new installment of the program, which is expected to be announced formally along with a solicitation for applications some time in early summer. Submissions would most likely be due in late summer, with funding decisions probably coming in winter.

It’s expected that the new program will very closely mirror last year’s $600 million version, including the 80-20 federal-local match requirement and the merit-based project scoring. One expected difference will be that the new program may exclude planning and design projects in order to focus exclusively on construction and implementation. This would mean that the two Colorado projects from last year wouldn’t be eligible this time around.

This will be a major program to watch. It will be a good opportunity for RTD, CDOT, DRCOG, or anyone else to apply for money to help build underfunded transportation projects.