NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – The Lowcountry Rapid Transit (LCRT) is one step closer to becoming a reality after receiving federal approval to enter the engineering phase.

The project would be South Carolina’s first mass transit infrastructure project, placing a 21.3-mile rapid bus route along US 78 and US 52 (Rivers Avenue).

Four organizations are behind the effort: The Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments (BCDCOG), Charleston County, the SC Department of Transportation (SCDDOT), and the Charleston Area Regional Transport Authority (CARTA).

Approval from the Federal Transit Administration allows BCDCOG “to incur various reimbursable project-related costs.”

Project organizers will now focus on selected an engineering design firm, which “will be undertaken via the SCDOT procurement process.”

The engineering phase is expected to begin in 2023 and last about two years.

Following the engineering phase, the project will be reviewed for a full funding grant and submit for approval to enter the construction phase. If all goes well, the LCRT has a projected opening date of 2028.

The LCRT is eligible to receive $375,060,506 in federal funding, which is about 60% of the estimated project cost. The remainder of the cost will come from the Charleston County half-cent sales tax.