WASHINGTON — Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced Tuesday that $500 million is available for a fourth round of TIGER grants to help fund state and local government infrastructure projects.

The Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery program awards money to projects “having a significant impact on the nation, a metropolitan area, or region,” the DOT said. The program’s previous three rounds have distributed $2.6 billion to 172 projects in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

“President Obama made clear in his State of the Union address that investing in transportation means putting people back to work, and that’s just what our TIGER program is doing in communities across the country,” LaHood said. “Americans are demanding investments in highways, ports, commuter rail, streetcars, buses and high-speed rail. These kinds of projects not only mean a stronger economic future for the U.S., but jobs for Americans today.”

TIGER IV grants of up to $100 million will be available for high-speed and inter-city passenger rail projects, and $120 million has been set aside for projects benefiting rural areas.

The DOT awards the grants on a competitive basis, evaluating each proposal on “criteria that include safety, economic competitiveness, livability, environmental sustainability, state of repair and short-term job creation.”

The previous three TIGER grant rounds were extremely popular. The DOT said it received 3,348 applications requesting more than $95 billion during the first three rounds of the program.

Pre-applications for the grants are due Feb. 20, and applications are due March 19. 

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