Bid process underway for Purple Line light rail

ANNAPOLIS - The process for companies to prepare bids to build and operate the 16-mile Purple Line light rail has formally begun.

RELATED: Purple Line imperils Bethesda recreation trail

The Maryland transportation department released a 2,200-page bid solicitation for the project in Montgomery and Prince George's counties on Tuesday.

The Washington Post reports that four teams of private companies will have until Jan. 9 to submit their proposals for a 35-year public-private partnership in which the companies would design, build, operate, maintain and help finance a Purple Line's construction.

The state expects the winning team to contribute $500 million to $900 million toward the project's estimated $2.37 billion construction costs.

See also: O'Malley to announce plans for the Purple Line

Officials say a preferred bid will be selected by spring 2015. The Purple Line could open in 2020.

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