Photo by iyoupapa on Flickr.

The Metropolitan Washington Transportation Planning Board reported Wednesday 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 projects deserve funding.

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.

The Washington region was awarded a grant for bus improvements in round one, and applied for but didn’t receive a grant for bikesharing in round two. However, the TIGER II bikesharing application was apparently one of the highest-scoring nationally not to receive funding, so it might be prudent to simply try the same thing again.

In any event, this will be a major program to watch. The TPB will almost certainly put forth a regional application, and most of the local jurisdictions will probably apply for projects separately as well.

Cross-posted at BeyondDC.

Dan Malouff is a transportation planner for Arlington and professor of geography at George Washington University, but blogs to express personal views. He has a degree in urban planning from the University of Colorado and lives in northeast DC. He runs BeyondDC and contributes to the Washington Post .