The Federal Transit Administration gave approval for Valley Metro's (Phoenix) light rail project to advance to the final design stage--a decision project officials say makes federal funding approval a virtual lock.
Full Funding Grant Agreement is the last major milestone remaining for the project.
Approval for the final design keeps the project on schedule to begin construction by this time next year and open in late 2006.
The decision allows project designers to finalize the construction plans during the coming year, begin utility relocation and request early approval to begin construction and purchase light rail vehicles and construction materials.
Design and engineering, construction and equipment is expected to add nearly $150 million to the local economy, and provide hundreds of local jobs, during the coming year.