In a statement, the city said, "Work to achieve Federal Environmental Assessment approval began in earnest in March 2010. With this announcement, the federal government now joins the provincial government, which granted its environmental assessment approval in August 2010.
"This project is the largest, most complex infrastructure project in the City's history and today we have achieved a very important milestone," said Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson. "The federal government's endorsement of our approach is a critical step forward for us as we move towards finishing the RFP and selecting the team that will build this project."
Ottawa at present is soliciting Requests for Proposals, and says three “world class consortia” have been shortlisted to compete for the project contract. Ottawa Transit Partners, led by Vinci Concessions; Rideau Transit Group, led by ACS Infrastructure Canada Inc.; and Rideau Transit Partners, led by Bouygues Travaux Publics S.A.
The City Council expects to select a winner late this year, with construction beginning in 2013.
Ottawa has tapped Infrastructure Ontario as the "commercial procurement lead" for the project. Infrastructure Ontario also is involved with LRT projects in Toronto and the Waterloo region, west of Toronto.
The city has struggled with evaluating four options for routing light rail transit through the western portion of the city, with the least expensive option proving to be the most controversial.