The METRORapid Inner Katy Corridor project is now one step closer to construction.

The Federal Transit Administration has now approved the categorical exclusion for this project, said Tom Lambert, Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County CEO, during a Jan. 26 board meeting.

“This milestone moves this regionally significant project forward into the design phase,” Lambert said.

The Inner Katy 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 will 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.

“I want to thank the Federal Transit Administration, specifically Administrator Gail Lyssy in Region 6, for their approval in, I think, an expedited fashion,” Lambert said. “And certainly, [I] want to thank her and her staff, and all of our private-sector partners, local partners for staying focused on delivering this transit project to our region.”

An estimated three-year construction period will begin around a year after the design phase is completed.