Bidding process for Maryland's Purple Line has begun

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

      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.

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