Part of the Illiana Expressway's proposed path.

Bluff Road over Interstate 55, on the path of proposed Illiana Expressway in July 2012. ((Zbigniew Bzdak/Chicago Tribune) / January 18, 2013)

The so-called Illiana Expressway connecting Illinois and Indiana largely through central Will County has moved another step forward in the approval process, transportation officials said.

The Federal Highway Administration on Friday gave its stamp of approval for the approximate path of the long-proposed superhighway connecting Interstate 55 near Wilmington with I-65 near Cedar Lake, Ind.

The official “record of decision” decision ends the first phase of the planning process and kicks off a much more detailed environmental and financial analysis of the Illiana’s proposed route, which transportation officials have designated Corridor B3.

Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann Schneider called the decision a “significant milestone” in the development of the project.

“We look forward to moving forward as expeditiously as we can,” Schneider said.

Twitter @richwronski