The US Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has given environmental approval to the Maryland Transit Administration's (MTA) proposed $2.5bn Baltimore Red Line project in Baltimore, Maryland, US.
According to MTA, the move clears the way for final design as well as making the $2.5bn light rail project eligible for future federal approvals and funding.
The approval was based on information presented in a final environmental impact statement completed in December 2012.
MTA said the project's environmental approval follows "extensive" efforts to identify and minimise its possible impact on communities, historic buildings and natural resources like parks, wetlands and trees.
The proposed 14.5-mile east-west transit line would connect downtown Baltimore with Woodlawn, Edmondson Village, West Baltimore, Inner Harbor East, Fells Point, Canton and the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center campus.
Riders on the 19-station line would also be able to connect to the current Metro Subway, Light Rail and MARC lines.
Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley said that the government's next challenge is to find the funds to keep the project moving.
"Without an increase in transportation funding, work on the Red Line will come to a halt later this year as the state dollars simply aren't there to continue," O'Malley said.
"We can avoid this by passing the transportation package I introduced this week along with Senate President Miller and Speaker Busch," O'Malley added.
"Under our proposal we can continue to move these projects forward, demonstrate our commitment to the project and remain in a position to compete for federal construction funds."
The state of Maryland plans to raise around $3.4bn over the next five years to use on transport projects.
Construction of the Red Line project is set to start in 2015 and following its scheduled completion in 2020, the light rail line is expected to carry over 57,000 passengers a day by 2030.
Image: The 14.5-mile Baltimore Red Line will link downtown Baltimore with Woodlawn, Edmondson Village, West Baltimore, Inner Harbor East, Fells Point, Canton and the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center campus. Photo: courtesy of Baltimore Red Line.