IndyGo will begin negotiations on nearly $46 million in contracts for the first phase of a high-profile mass transit expansion. Phase One of the Red Line rapid transit work involves road, sidewalk and station canopy construction. The 13-mile Broad Ripple-to-University of Indianapolis campus route is slated to open for service in the spring of 2019.

Officials call it "the reliable spine" of a revamped transit system. Voters last year approved a 0.25 percent income tax increase to cover expansion and boost service frequency.

IndyGo says bids for the initial phase came in more than 3 percent lower than expected. The work will be performer by Rieth-Riley Construction Co. Inc. and FA Wilhelm Construction. Federal funding approved last year will cover $50 million and another $25 million chunk that has yet to receive Congressional approval is expected to come from the federal Small Starts Grant program.

Construction could begin as early as the first quarter of 2018.