The $532 million Gold Line bus rapid transit project in the east metro cleared a critical step Wednesday that’s needed to secure millions in federal funding. The 10-mile line between downtown St. Paul and Woodbury has been cleared by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to enter the engineering phase. That means the project’s engineering team will complete the work needed to develop construction plans. Passenger service now is expected to begin in 2024. “This is a very important step,” said Gold Line Project Director Christine Beckwith.