BRADENTON, Fla. — Georgia asked four builders, including top international firms, to bid on metro Atlanta’s Northwest Corridor congestion-reliever project Thursday.

The project, estimated to cost as much as $850 million, will be traditionally financed with various sources, including bonds.

However, the winning bidder will be asked to fund up to 20% of the project in a structure that officials consider a bridge loan that will be repaid.

The Georgia Department of Transportation said it expected to release a draft request for proposals Friday so prospective bidders can ask questions or seek clarification about certain details of the project.

A final RFP will be released in December, with responses due in June.

GDOT will not release the RFP to the public because “this is considered to be privileged as it is part of the negotiations of an ongoing procurement,” said agency spokesman David Spear.

The agency has said it will select the developers’ proposal that offers the “best value” for design and construction of the project.

GDOT, which is seeking a low-interest loan through the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act, is expecting final federal approval of the project in January. Construction could begin as early as the summer of 2014 and take nearly four years to complete.

Firms that have been asked to respond to the RFP are CW Matthews Contracting Co. Inc. and the Michael Baker Corp.; Georgia Transportation Partners, comprised of Bechtel Infrastructure Corp., Kiewit Infrastructure South Co., Dewberry and Davis LLC and STV Inc.; and Northwest Express Road Builders, comprised of Archer Western Contractors, the Hubbard Group, and Parsons Corp.

HNTB Corp. is the technical advisor. Public Resources Advisory Group and Ernst & Young Infrastructure Advisors LLC are financial advisors. Greenberg Traurig LLP is legal counsel.

The 30-mile project involves adding reversible managed lanes along Interstate 75 and I-575 in Cobb and Cherokee counties, as well as extending existing high-occupancy vehicle lanes.

The reversible lanes will carry traffic southbound during morning commuting hours and northbound in the afternoon and evening. Drivers will be subject to a variable-rate toll that will be based on traffic volume.

The Northwest Corridor originally was planned to be a public-private partnership, and GDOT still considers it a P3, though it now will be built with a design-build approach.

State and federal sources expected to be used to finance the project include a $270 million low-interest TIFIA loan, grant anticipation revenue vehicle bonds and toll revenue bonds.

Officials have said that the state still expects to achieve cost savings using the design-build method, with the amount to be determined as the project moves through the procurement process.

The project has been proposed for many years to deal with bumper-to-bumper traffic congestion in and out of Atlanta.

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