The Met Council's Transportation Committee Monday voted to recommend two firms for work on the planned Southwest Light Rail line.
The committee recommends that North Carolina-based Kimley-Horn & Associates design the eastern half of the LRT, and Los Angeles-based AECOM design the western half.
The Southwest LRT would run from Minneapolis to Eden Prairie through the southwest suburbs.
Mark Fuhrmann, Met Council director of transit projects said the winning bids stood out by their creativity and thoroughness.
"They were very carefully thought proposals responding directly to our requests for looking at the key issues in the east, freight rail; and in the west, what kind of bridge structures we need to look at and the alignment in Eden Prairie," Fuhrmann said.
The council is expected to vote later this week on whether to grant the two firms contracts of nearly $17 million each.
The council previously sought one contractor to design the entire line. That plan was scrapped over concerns about front-runner URS Corp, which designed the failed Sabo Bridge in Minneapolis.
A third contract will also be issued for an engineering firm to review the line's design.