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The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) yesterday issued a letter of no prejudice for Metro Transit's $2 billion Green Line light-rail extension in Minneapolis and its southwestern suburbs.The letter makes early construction work on what's also known as the Southwest light-rail project eligible for federal reimbursement upon the award of a Full Funding Grant Agreement, which is anticipated for 2019, according to a Metropolitan Council press release. The federal government is expected to pay $929 million of the project's total costs.The Metropolitan Council oversees Metro Transit, which provides rail and bus services in the Twin Cities region. The Southwest extension marks Minnesota's largest civil construction project, said Metropolitan Council Chair Alene Tchourumoff, who will step down from her role by this month's end.The FTA's letter also allows the Metropolitan Council to award a construction contract. Early construction activities during the upcoming winter could include staffing and equipment mobilization, site clearance, demolition and utility work. Heavy construction is expected to take place 2019 through 2022, with testing of the new system slated to take place in 2022 or 2023.Earlier this year, the council received two construction contract bids for the project: a $799,514,338 bid from Lunda/C.S. McCrossan and an $812,125,583 bid from Ames/Kraemer. The council asked the bidders to extend their bid validity while awaiting FTA approval to proceed, council officials said.Before the council can award the contract, it will require approvals from Hennepin County, the project's primary local funder.When completed, the Green Line extension will operate 14.5 miles from downtown Minneapolis through St. Louis Park, Hopkins, Minnetonka and Eden Prairie, Minnesota. In May, it was announced the project's costs had increased by $145 million to $2 billion.