Powers including 19 listed building consents to attach poles and fixings to create a new tram route through Manchester city centre have been granted to Transport for Greater Manchester by the Government.
The route through St Peter's Square, along Princess Street, Cross Street and Corporation Street and re-joining the existing Metrolink line near Victoria station, was the subject of a major consultation in 2011 and a public inquiry earlier this year.
The Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin, has now approved Transport for Greater Manchester's application for the Transport & Works Act Order required to build and operate the new line.
The Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government, Eric Pickles, has also approved several associated Listed Building consents.
The decision means TfGM can now finalise arrangements for delivering the scheme, which will see a new, larger tram stop in St Peter's Square and a new stop in Exchange Square, one of the city's main retail and leisure areas.
Cllr Andrew Fender, chairman of the Transport for Greater Manchester Committee, said: "This is fantastic news and means we can now press ahead with developing the detail of the delivery programme, appointing a contractor and getting work started as soon as possible.
"By providing the necessary capacity, flexibility and reliability for the future tram network to operate, the second city crossing will play a vital role in helping to build a strong and prosperous economy for Greater Manchester.
"It's an essential part of the expansion programme which also complements the city's redevelopment of St Peter's Square – so this really is excellent news."