The Biden administration pledged $3 billion on Tuesday to assist start laying track for a planned high-speed rail route between Las Vegas and Southern California, Nevada elected leaders said.
The $12 billion Brightline West project has been spoken about for decades, and U.S. Sen. Jacky Rosen informed reporters that it now has the essential right-of-way and environmental permissions, as well as labor agreements, for work to begin on the 218-mile corridor along the 15 Freeway.
There was no announcement of a start date for the work. However, Rosen believes that electric trains might be carrying people by the time Los Angeles holds the Summer Olympics in 2028.
“We’re ready to get to work,” Wes Edens, founder and chairman of Brightline in Florida, said in a statement ahead of a Friday event in Las Vegas that might overlap with President Joe Biden’s arrival.
Rosen and U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, both Democrats, led a bipartisan group in April that urged Biden to commit up to $3.75 billion in federal infrastructure funds toward what they call a public-private partnership.
According to planners, trains traveling at nearly 200 mph could reduce a four-hour road trip from a station in Las Vegas through Victorville to a light-rail line in Rancho Cucamonga in half.
They claim the service might help reduce weekend or end-of-holiday travel traffic congestion on the 15 Freeway near the Nevada-California border, which sometimes stretch nearly 15 miles.
“Connecting Las Vegas and Southern California by high-speed rail will create tens of thousands of good-paying union jobs, boost our Southern Nevada tourism economy, and finally help us cut down on I-15 traffic,” Cortez Masto said Tuesday in a statement.
Demands for a high-speed rail route from the Mojave Desert to Las Vegas date back at least to 2001, according to Dina Titus, a Democrat who represents the Las Vegas Strip. Over the years, the idea had beginnings, stops, and many names until being derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Brightline Holdings LLC of Florida, which established the only privately-owned and managed intercity passenger railroad in the United States, is planned to model the line on service it began on Florida’s east coast in 2014. That route now connects Miami and Orlando, with trains reaching speeds of up to 125 miles per hour.
Other locations where high-speed trains have been suggested include the 240-mile stretch in Texas between Dallas and Houston, as well as a 500-mile line between Los Angeles and San Francisco, which has been plagued by rising prices, funding issues, and other setbacks.
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