The proposed passenger rail project between Duluth and the Twin Cities now has the green light to start securing funding.
New findings released by the Federal Railroad Administration say the Northern Lights Express project poses no significant impact on the environment.
That means those involved with the project can begin seeking funding for its final design and construction.
Ken Buehler, chairman of the NLX Technical Advisory Committee, says it's a major milestone.
"Most projects don't get to this point. The last 'Finding of No Significant Impact' (FONSI) came in 2013 for All Aboard Florida."
Buehler says that train just started running in December, joining the Wolverine, which travels from Michigan to Chicago and before that, an Amtrak train traveling between St. Louis and Chicago.
The proposed half-billion dollar high speed train would run 152 miles between Duluth and Minneapolis. and would also travel through Douglas County.
80 percent of the funding will come from the federal level. The rest will be local.
Buehler says he's confident the project can secure funding.
"Our next big piece is a tiger grant for $11 million to start doing signal and crossing upgrades on the existing BNSF track," he said.
Project leaders hope to have the Northern Lights Train running by 2020.