The City of Ottawa, which officially unveiled the Rideau Transit Group as the winning bidder for the $2.1-billion light rail project, says the LRT won't be up and running until 2018.

The group includes Montreal-based engineering firm SNC-Lavalin, as well as ACS Infrastructure, an international group based in Spain, EllisDon Corporation, EllisDon Inc., Dragados Canada Inc. and Veolia Transportation Services Inc.

The Rideau Transit Group will oversee the design, financing, building and maintenance of the "Confederation Line," the name given to Ottawa's new light-rail system, Mayor Jim Watson announced Wednesday.

Watson said the total cost of the project is estimated at $2.13 billion including land costs.

The construction schedule will see project construction mostly complete by the end of 2017, and in service by 2018. That means the project is not expected to be ready for Canada's 150th birthday celebrations in 2017.

Construction is projected to start sometime in 2013.

The announcement was made at City Hall with Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, former Ottawa mayor Larry O'Brien and Bob Chiarelli — who now leads three ministries including transportation and infrastructure — in attendance.

20,000 local jobs from LRT project, McGuinty says

McGuinty announced 80 per cent of the jobs, or about 20,000, created by the LRT project will be local. He added the $600-million infrastructure investment is the largest ever given to the nation's capital.

Alstom's light rail trains move at speeds up to 100 km/h and they are currently used in 40 cities around the world.

City officials examined three separate bids for the design, construction timeline and final cost. The bid came in under the $2.1-billion budget, which was a requirement, beating out Ottawa Transit Partners and Rideau Transit Partners, which also submitted proposals before the July 2012 deadline.

VINCI led the Ottawa Transit Partners group that included, among other partners, Quebec-based Bombardier. Bouygues Travaux led the Rideau Transit Partners group, which also lost out.

Both groups will receive about $2 million for the work involved in bidding for the LRT project.

The details of the winning bid will be part of a report to city council for approval on Dec. 12 and 19.

Ottawa residents will be able to have their say on the winning bid throughout December with the first open house today. There will also be a public exhibit of the project until Dec. 19.