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Las Vegas-SoCal Rail Project Delayed

Thursday, June 6, 2019

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Plans for a $4 billion high-speed rail project connecting Southern California and Las Vegas have been delayed by up to two years due to the company responsible being unable to land tax abatements for the project.

According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Virgin Trains USA was ready to move forward with the project as early as next year.

SoCal-Las Vegas Rail System

The 185-mile project, set to run on dual tracks, following the Interstate 15 corridor, includes future plans to extend out to Los Angeles. Lobbyist Danny Thompson, known for representing labor unions as well as other groups, noted that the I-15 is a problem, and once the stadium in Vegas is complete, the roadway would become an even larger issue. (Roughly 40% of fans that are slated to attend Raiders games will be coming from outside Vegas.)

Virgin Trains USA finished its acquisition of XpressWest in March, which had previously been working since 2005 to get the necessary permits to build a $7 billion high-speed rail line running from Victorville, California, to Las Vegas. (Virgin Trains was previously known as Brightline.)

Moving Forward

Since the company did not acquire the needed tax abatements this legislative session, the project’s construction date has been bumped back two years. Bob O’Malley, vice president of government affairs for Virgin Trains, told the Review-Journal that if the company had been able “to do something this session,” construction would have started next year. Company representatives plan to once again attend the 2021 legislative session in the quest for tax exemptions.

This time, the company was seeking some abatement of sales and property taxes, with plans to pay taxes that would go to schools, O’Malley noted, adding that the venture is being privately funded.

According to O'Malley's numbers, the rail project would create close to $2 billion in economic impact, as well as create over 1,000 construction jobs, remove 4.5 million cars from the nearby interstate per year and create $14 million in environmental benefits every year.

“Even though I compared us to other companies, we’re different because we’re more permanent in our infrastructure in the investment that we are building,” O’Malley said.

Thompson also noted that “all you can put in that corridor is a train. It’s not going to be built without the abatements.”


Tagged categories: Funding; Government; Infrastructure; NA; North America; Program/Project Management; Project Management; Rail

Comment from T W, (6/7/2019, 11:57 AM)

How many total tax dollars would potentially be abated?

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