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Timeline Updated for NV to CA Rail

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

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Work on a high-speed train that would connect Las Vegas and Southern California is set to kick off late next year in the latter state if things go according to plan. For that to happen, however, bonds need to be approved in January or February.

Work is slated to begin first in California, where a $3.25 billion bond request was already approved. Currently, Virgin Trains is seeking approval for $950 million in bonds in Nevada.

Project History

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 games at the new National Football League stadium 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.)

In June, details came to light that signaled a potential project delay for up to two years due to the company responsible being unable to land tax abatements for the project. Bob O’Malley, vice president of government affairs for Virgin Trains, told the Las Vegas 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.

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

Recent Developments

According to The Mercury News, construction is slated to take three years and cost $4.8 billion. Business chief Terry Reynolds also reported that the Federal Railroad Administration also had to provide final approval, and the record of decision is expected to be issued in August.

In terms of Nevada funding, $200 million would come from the state debt limit allocation, in turning allowing the company to market $800 million in bonds. The U.S. Department of Transportation would provide another $150 million in funding through its bond program.

Tina Quigley, vice president of business strategy for Virgin Trains, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that work will likely begin “in about five different areas when construction starts,” most of which will likely be in California, where the bulk of the rail will be. Nevada construction will likely begin sometime in 2021.

“It wouldn’t be until early-to-mid 2021 that the Vegas station and the work in Vegas would start,” Quigley said.


Tagged categories: Federal Railroad Administration; Infrastructure; NA; North America; Program/Project Management; Project Management; Rail

Comment from Mark Taylor, (12/17/2019, 8:33 AM)

Train to Nowhere 2.0

Comment from Tony Rangus, (12/17/2019, 9:30 AM)

I wonder how many endangered animals and endangered flora & fauna will have to be addressed?

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