The initial planning for the METRORapid Inner Katy Project will soon come to an end as officials begin the next steps, which include an environmental review and preliminary engineering.

The Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County board of trustees unanimously approved a locally preferred alternative plan for the project at the March 24 board meeting.

The project—planning for which first began in late 2020—involves developing a high-capacity bus rapid transit line from the Northwest Transit Center in uptown to downtown Houston, including the Theater District, Central Station and Convention District, according to previous coverage by Community Impact Newspaper.

The project would connect two of the biggest employment centers in Houston, maximize existing infrastructure and close the public transit gap along I-10, according to agenda documents.

It would also add three new transit stations along I-10, which will be located at Memorial Park, Shepherd and Durham drives, and Studemont Street. The project will also add two new transit stations in downtown Houston, one at Franklin and Bagby streets and one at St. Emanuel Street/East Downtown.

The majority of the alignment of the project falls within the Texas Department of Transportation’s right of way, meaning that it is not expected to have a significant effect on properties along the corridor. The preferred alignment will feature an elevated busway along I-10.

Construction is expected to start a year after the design is complete and would last about three years, according to METRO’s website.

The expected results of the project are set to include a reduction of 80,000 vehicle miles traveled, leading to less carbon dioxide emissions, as well as the service of 42,000 daily passengers.

“This is the definition of a good transit project. This is what makes transit meaningful for everyone that uses it,” METRO chairman Sanjay Ramabhadran said.