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Vegas-SoCal High-Speed Rail Secures $3B in New Funding

Posted on: December 5, 2023, 11:09h. 

Last updated on: December 5, 2023, 11:14h.

The high-speed train proposed by Brightline West to connect Las Vegas and Southern California chugged another step closer to reality on Tuesday. That’s when US Senator Jacky Rosen (D-NV) announced that $3B in funding is now secured to begin construction.

A rendering of the Brightline West train, which is expected to link Las Vegas with Los Angeles by 2028. (Image: Brightline West)

According to a news release announcing the funding, the money comes from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

This historic high-speed rail project will be a game-changer for Nevada’s tourism economy and transportation,” Sen. Rosen is quoted as saying in the release. “It’ll bring more visitors to our state, reduce traffic on the I-15, create thousands of good paying jobs, and decrease carbon emissions, all while relying on local union labor.”

Previously, the US Department of Transportation approved $1B in private activity bonds, with the actual borrowing up to the states of California and Nevada. It also awarded $25M in June to build passenger stations in the high-desert California towns of Hesperia and Apple Valley, from which the trains will connect to downtown Los Angeles.

Money Train

Brightline West claims its $12B project will be the first truly high-speed rail system in America, with trains capable of speeds of 200 miles per hour whooshing past vehicular traffic along Interstate 15’s right of way. Brightline projects an average Las Vegas-L.A. travel time of 2 hours and 15 minutes.

Brightline West estimates its high-speed rail “will remove 3 million cars from I-15 annually, reducing more than 400K tons of carbon emissions each year” and create “35,000 good-paying, union jobs,” including 10K union construction jobs and close to 1,000 permanent jobs for operations and maintenance.

According to Brightline West, the project will generate more than $1B in economic impact to California and Nevada.

Slow Train Coming

Brightline West said it hopes to build its rail line in time for the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles. Even by that optimistic timetable, the project will have taken nearly 20 years from the time it was first envisioned.

Planning for a high-speed rail link connecting Las Vegas with Southern California began in 2009. That’s when the Federal Railroad Administration completed a draft environmental plan for a project, which was then known as DesertXpress. Brightline acquired the project in 2018.

In July 2021, Brightline purchased 110 acres for its Las Vegas terminus station at Las Vegas Boulevard between Warm Springs and Blue Diamond roads, only three miles from the southern end of the Las Vegas Strip. Brightline West is also expected to include a stop at the future Southern Nevada Supplemental Airport, which is expected to open by 2037 between Primm and Jean, Nev.

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