A consortium led by Spain's ACS Infrastructure and that includes engineering firm SNC-Lavalin was tipped Wednesday to build the first subway in Canada's capital for Can$2.1 billion.
Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson announced the preferred pick for the contract at the official unveiling of a mock-up of the light rail project -- the largest project in the capital's history.
The project "will create jobs, help the environment by taking cars off the road and contribute to a better quality of life for the people of Ottawa," said Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty. The provincial and federal governments are helping to pay for it.
Construction of the so-called Confederation Line -- the first leg of a grand transportation plan to ease gridlock in the city of one million residents -- is scheduled to begin in 2013 and to be "substantially completed" by 2017, said a statement.
It includes a tunnel through downtown Ottawa and 13 stations.
The city council is expected to sign off on the deal on December 19.
The Rideau Transit Group consortium led by ACS also includes EllisDon Corp., Veolia Transportation, Dragados, local firm BBB Architects, Thurber Engineering and several other companies. Alstom will provide the trains.
The consortium beat out two other finalists headed by Bouygues Travaux Publics S.A., the French company that built the tunnel under the English Channel, and Vinci Concessions, the lead on a massive new bridge connecting Canada's Prince Edward Island province with the mainland.
Bouygues Travaux Publics partnered with German train maker Siemens for its failed bid while Vinci Concessions enlisted Canada's Bombardier.
Siemens had been awarded a previous contract to build Ottawa's light rail transit system but it was nixed when a new mayor took over at city hall in 2006.