The city's transit committee voted Thursday morning in favour of the $1.8 billion plan to build a tunnel under downtown Ottawa.

The next hurdle comes next week when the plan goes before the entire city council.

The three-kilometre tunnel route would run between LeBreton Flats and the University of Ottawa.

The City of Ottawa hopes to have the tunnel in operation by 2017 as part of a $1.4-billion transit plan. The total project includes 12.5 kilometres of light rail track that would extend from Tunney's Pasture to Blair Road with 13 transit stations along the route.

In terms of the downtown tunnel, city planners recommend an above-ground station at Lebreton Flats and four other stations located underground at Lyon/Bay, O'Connor/Metcalfe, the Rideau Centre and the University of Ottawa.

Although the city is yet to confirm federal or provincial funding for the project, city councillors say they're confident they'll get the funding they need to move the project forward.

But not everyone supports the plan. A group representing the concerns of downtown businesses says a plan to veer the tracks north at Kent Street could hurt business on Rideau Street.

The city hopes to have all plans finalized by January 2010, with construction beginning in 2012.