Just one bidder remains in the effort to build the $2 billion Southwest light-rail line, the most expensive public works project in state history.

The Metropolitan Council said Wednesday the lone bidder is Lunda/C.S. McCrossan, which bid $799 million to build the 14.5-mile track linking downtown Minneapolis to Eden Prairie. Ames Kraemer, which bid $812 million, has apparently dropped out of the running, Met Council spokeswoman Kate Brickman said.

The Lunda/C.S. McCrossan bid is valid through Nov. 15.

Originally, the council rejected four bids in September 2017, ranging from $797 million to $1.08 billion to build the largely suburban light-rail line. The project was rebid because the council dubbed the original bids "non responsive."

The two bidders resurfaced in May with bids that were higher than the first round, expecting the project to be awarded Aug. 1. But the award was delayed until Sept. 30, and now mid-November.

Brickman said the council is waiting for the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), which is expected to contribute $829 million to the project, to issue a "Letter of No Prejudice." Such a letter would permit the council to spend local funds on the project with the expectation that federal funds would be available soon for reimbursement.

Transit planners had hoped to begin construction this year, but until federal funding is nailed down, that won't occur. If the FTA issues the preliminary go-ahead, some site preparation and demolition work could move forward this year, the Met Council said.

An FTA spokesperson said the fund that helps pay for projects like Southwest received $2.62 billion from Congress in fiscal 2018. The program is competitive, with several transit agencies across the country vying for funding.

The council hopes Southwest will begin service in 2023.

Janet Moore • 612-673-7752 @MooreStrib