DALLAS — Maryland has selected four international construction consortiums to submit proposals to build, maintain and operate the proposed $2.2 billion Purple Line light-rail system that would connect Montgomery and Prince Georges Counties.

The winning private-sector team in the public-private partnership is expected to provide at least $500 million and possibly as much as $900 million of private investment to help fund the project.

The 16-mile Purple Line is the largest public-private partnership project in Maryland and the first transit P3 under the state's new Transportation Infrastructure Investment Act that went into effect July 1, 2013.

The new light-rail line will run east-west inside the I-495 Beltway that encircles the District of Columbia. It will stretch from Bethesda in Montgomery County to New Carrollton in Prince George's County.

Public funding for the Purple Line will include $750 million from the state's Transportation Trust Fund through 2019, $110 million each from the two counties, and a federal transportation loan of $900 million the state hopes to obtain.

The state has spent $109 million on the project so far.

The Maryland Transit Administration will own the land and rail assets of the system. MTA will set the fares and collect the revenues, with the successful concessionaire receiving availability payments from the state of $100 million to $200 million a year for 30 to 45 years.

The availability payments will paid from revenue generated on the Purple Line and other systems operated by the MTA.

The four finalists were selected from six groups that submitted statements of qualifications last month to MTA and the Maryland Department of Transportation.

"We were quite pleased with the overall response," said MTA Administrator Robert L. Smith.

Smith said. "The interest expressed by so many well-regarded companies is a testament to both the value of the Purple Line as a transportation asset and the power of public-private partnership to deliver value for citizens over a long period."

The proposals were ranked by the combined team experience, personnel and organization, and financing capacity, Smith said.

The state will issue a request in the spring for the four potential partners to submit complete proposals by the fall, Smith said. MDOT and MTA will select the preferred partner in late 2014 or early 2015.

Construction could get under way in spring 2015, he said, with completion in 2020.

The 21 stations on the proposed Purple Line will provide direct connections to three existing Metrorail lines operated by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, three lines of the MARC commuter rail system, and Amtrak passenger train service.

The short-listed consortiums include: Maryland Purple Line Partners, consisting of VINCI Concessions, Walsh Investors, InfraRed Capital Partners, ALSTOM Transport and Keolis S.A.; Maryland Transit Connectors with John Laing Investments Ltd., Kiewit Development Co., and Edgemoor Infrastructure & Real Estate LLC; Purple Line Transit Partners with Meridiam Infrastructure Purple Line LLC, Fluor Enterprises Inc., and Star America Fund GP LLC; and Purple Plus Alliance LLC Proposer, with Macquarie Capital Group and Skanska Infrastructure Development Inc.

When a P3 structure for the Purple Line project was approved in November 2013 by the Maryland Board of Public Works, state Treasurer Nancy Kopp said the availability payments promised in the contract will probably not be considered as state tax-supported debt, but the final determination has not been made.

"We can't tell you for sure until we have an actual contract to be reviewed," said Kopp, who serves on the state board.

Subscribe Now

Independent and authoritative analysis and perspective for the bond buying industry.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.