Vegas-to-SoCal train project gets more funding from Biden administration

Brightline conductor Megan Olshefki boards the train on its inaugural route from Miami to Orlando Friday, Sept. 22, 2023. Brightline, which began running its neon-yellow trains between Miami and West Palm Beach in 2018, is the first private intercity passenger service to begin U.S. operations in a century. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier).

By Isabel Soisson

January 24, 2024

A proposed high-speed rail line connecting Las Vegas to Southern California is one step closer to fruition after the Biden administration announced $2.5 billion in private activity bonds have been approved for the project.

The new funding from the US Department of Transportation (DOT) is on top of the $3 billion in federal grant funding announced for the project just last month.

The Brightline West High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail will be 218 miles long, and will primarily run along the Interstate 15 median. Because the trains will be able to reach nearly 200 mph, the trip between the two states will be reduced to two hours and 10 minutes–that’s nearly half the amount of time it takes to travel by car.

The high-speed rail line is expected to bolster tourism, create tens of thousands of jobs, ease highway traffic, and cut more than 400,000 tons of carbon pollution each year, as it will be a fully electric, zero-emission system. DOT officials say that once completed, it’ll be one of the “the greenest forms of transportation in the United States.”

In addition to a flagship station in Las Vegas, the line will feature stations in Apple Valley, Hesperia, and Rancho Cucamonga; the latter station will connect to Southern California’s regional Metrolink service, which travelers can use to get to downtown Los Angeles, Riverside County, and more.

This is the second private activity bond allocation the DOT has bestowed upon the nearly $12 billion project, following an initial $1 billion allocation in 2020. The department also awarded a $25 million grant to the San Bernardino County Transportation Authority in June. Those funds will be used for the construction of Brightline West stations in Hesperia and Apple Valley.

Nevada’s Democratic US Senators Jacky Rosen and Catherine Cortez Masto praised the influx of money on Tuesday.

“This funding opportunity will help launch the next phase of the Brightline West project by supporting construction and creating thousands of good-paying jobs,” Cortez Masto said in a statement. “I’ve been a champion of fast, sustainable transportation for years, and I’ll continue working to make sure local workers and tourists alike can benefit from these investments.”

“I’m proud to announce additional sources of funding for the project today, and will keep pushing to ensure it has the federal support it needs to make high-speed rail in Las Vegas a reality,” Rosen added in her statement.

The Biden administration has made investing in public transportation a main priority during the president’s time in office. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law represented the largest investment in public transit in US history, and according to the White House, more than $180 million has been allocated so far to improve public transportation options across the state of Nevada.

The Brightline West High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Project is expected to break ground this year, and the current goal is to have it be operational by 2028, just in time for the Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.

  • Isabel Soisson

    Isabel Soisson is a multimedia journalist who has worked at WPMT FOX43 TV in Harrisburg, along with serving various roles at CNBC, NBC News, Philadelphia Magazine, and Philadelphia Style Magazine.

CATEGORIES: INFRASTRUCTURE | POLITICS

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