Ontario transit officials have tapped Bechtel to help prepare for construction of the $8.5-billion Ontario Line subway project in Toronto, set to start next year.

The contractor will work as "delivery partner"  for the project, which involves building a 9.7-mile rapid transit line through the city, including downtown, regional transit authority Metrolinx said earlier this month.

The agency and Infrastructure Ontario are bidding project construction in three separate packages, but they said Bechtel will not be involved in contractor selection for those.

One of the first two contracts is for the design-build-finance contract for the Ontario Line’s southern portion, which includes construction of a 6-km tunnel. The other covers supply of rolling stock and operations and maintenance for the new line.

Metrolinx chief spokeswoman Mary Ann Atkins said those would be awarded in 2022, but she was not more specific on the time frame and did not disclose identities of any bidders.

The third contract to build the northern half of the line, will go out “after the successful proponent for the southern civil package is identified,” Infrastructure Ontario and Metrolinx said in a press statement. The package is set to include a 3-km tunnel.

The line is set to open by 2027.

Bechtel will work with sub-vendors Bantrel Co. and Comtech Group Inc. to help build a “collaborative integrated project team” with Metrolinx “and its other consultants and contractors,” said Kelvin Sims, Bechtel general manager for Infrastructure Americas, in a press release.

"Bechtel will help to coordinate construction activities between Metrolinx, the successful proponent and other municipal partners," said Aikins.

On the Metrolinx project, Bechtel will conduct "regular stakeholder engagement and communication" said Maricela Gomez, a company spokesperson, in an email.

Transit officials in 2015 brought Bechtel Canada in to finish up the Yonge-University-Spadina subway line after the $2.1-billion project ran into various delays and went over budget.

Still, Metrolinx and Bechtel will face even larger challenges on the new Ontario Line project, with local businesses and members of the Toronto City Council already expressing concerns over the potential for downtown disruptions once the massive project moves into construction.

The route of the Ontario Line cuts through dozens of neighborhoods, with the line itself switching between subway, surface and elevated tracks at various points.

The project includes downtown construction of half a dozen subway stops, work that could involve road closures over a seven- year period, according to the CBC, citing a city report.

Overall, the new subway, which will run between Exhibition/Ontario Place and the Ontario Science Centre, will include as many as 15 stations and 17 connections to other subway and light rail systems.

A team led by design firm HDR was selected last year as project technical adviser, along with Mott MacDonald, Stantec, Systra and Comtech, to provide planning, engineering, environmental review, design and construction oversight services.