LAS VEGAS (News21USA) — A high-speed rail line planned between Las Vegas and the Los Angeles area on Tuesday earned a $3 billion pledge from the Biden administration to help start laying the track, Nevada elected officials said.
The $12 billion Brightline West-led project has been talked about for decades, with U.S. Sen. Jacky Rosen telling reporters that environmental and right-of-way approvals, along with labor agreements, are now required for work to begin for about 218 miles (351 kilometers) along the Interstate 15 corridor.
No date was announced for the start of construction. But Rosen said electric trains could carry passengers when Los Angeles hosts the Summer Olympics in 2028.
“We are ready to get to work,” Wes Edens, founder and president of Florida-based Brightline, said in a statement ahead of a Friday event in Las Vegas that may coincide with a visit from President Joe Biden.
Rosen and U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, both Democrats, led a bipartisan group that included all of Nevada’s elected federal lawmakers and four members of the California House of Representatives that in April urged Biden to commit up to $3.75 billion in federal infrastructure funds for what they call a public project -private association.
Planners say trains carrying passengers at nearly 200 mph (322 kph) could cut an average of a four-hour highway trip from a station in Las Vegas through Victorville, California, to a suburban Los Angeles light rail line. Angeles in the city of Rancho, San Bernardino County, Cucamonga.
They say the service could help ease weekend or holiday traffic jams that often stretch for 15 miles (24 kilometers) on I-15 near the Nevada-California line.
“Connecting Las Vegas and Southern California by high-speed rail will create tens of thousands of good-paying union jobs, boost our tourism economy in Southern Nevada and ultimately help us reduce I-15 traffic,” Cortez said Masto on Tuesday in a statement.
Calls for a high-speed rail line taking tourists across the Mojave Desert to Las Vegas date back to at least 2001, said U.S. Rep. Dina Titus, a Democrat who represents the Las Vegas Strip. The proposal had starts, stops and various names over the years, before going off course during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Florida-based Brightline Holdings LLC, which built the only privately owned and operated intercity passenger railroad in the U.S., is expected to model the line after service that began in 2014 on Florida’s east coast. That route now links Miami and Orlando with trains reaching speeds of up to 200 kph (125 mph).