The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) in the US has granted Letter of No Prejudice (LONP) to the $2bn Southwest Light Rail Transit Project (SWLRT) in the state of Minnesota.
The LONP will enable the regional government agency Metropolitan Council to award the construction contract for the SWLRT project.
FTA support will also make early construction work eligible for federal reimbursement after signing of the Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA).
The FFGA is expected to be signed next year and will provide $929m towards the project.
As one of the largest infrastructure projects in the state, the SWLRT involves the construction of a 14.5mile line serving the regions of Minneapolis, St Louis Park, Edina, Hopkins, Minnetonka and Eden Prairie. The line will have 16 stations.
The project is estimated to create 7,500 construction jobs.
Governor of Minnesota Mark Dayton said: “The Southwest Light Rail Transit project is a critical economic development project for the people of Minnesota.
“When complete, it will improve many thousands of lives from Eden Prairie to North Minneapolis.
“It will create new jobs, reduce highway congestion, and better connect Minnesotans to one another.”
Early construction works on the project, which will include equipment mobilisation, site clearance, demolition and other utility work, are expected to begin soon.
Major construction works for the Southwest Light Rail Transit Project are scheduled in 2019-22.
It is expected to begin commercial services in 2023 as an extension of the METRO Green Line.