ST. LOUIS – A plan to expand MetroLink services in St. Louis with a line from north to south city has gained support to proceed with development and funding efforts.

The Bi-State Development transportation agency is now authorized to plan, design, and develop a route through the Jefferson Alignment MetroLink Expansion project. The Bi-State Development Board of Commissioners approved a resolution and memorandum of understanding Friday during a special board meeting.

Through the latest agreement, Bi-State Development officials will be able to recruit a consultant, apply for funding and oversee the Program Management Consultant phase of the expansion project. According to a news release from Bi-State Development, officials say the first phase of expansion could cost around $850 million.

The Bi-State Development expects to submit an application for the federal government’s New Starts program this summer or next summer. The program provides up to $4.6 billion a year to fund major capital transit projects like the proposed Jefferson Alignment MetroLink Expansion. The program could fund up to 60 percent of the project, though another 40 percent would be needed from local funds.

Around $7.4 million is available for the project through the City MetroLink Capital Trust, which was saved from Missouri COVID-19 funds. Bi-State Development has not yet disclosed any other potential sources for local funding.

Consultant proposal requests for the project are due by April 17 and the Bi-State Development Board of Commissioners is hopeful to vote on a proposal by May 2023.

The Jefferson Alignment MetroLink Expansion project is intended for a MetroLink route from north to south St. Louis, though potential destinations are to be determined.