Las Vegas-Southern California train project clears environmental study

Representatives of the DesertXpress high-speed train cleared environmental hurdles this week, allowing team members to move forward with their design and applications to secure funding.

The Department of Transportation on Tuesday issued its Record of Decision for the train, the final step in the environmental impact study process. The approval gives the train a significant advantage over its competitor, the magnetic levitation train.

"Today's announcement is about one thing: creating good paying jobs right here in Nevada," U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said in a statement, adding that 32,000 jobs will be created if the project moves forward.

The DesertXpress would travel to Victorville, Calif., in 84 minutes at speeds of 130 miles per hour. In contrast, the maglev would reach Anaheim, Calif., in 81 minutes at speeds up to 300 mph.

Reid initially supported the Maglev technology but jumped off board two years ago and dedicated his support to the DesertXpress, an endeavor whose partners include political consultant Sig Rogich; transportation expert Tom Stone; Gary Tharaldson, a North Dakota-based self-made centimillionaire; and resort builder Tony Marnell.

Ray LaHood, the U.S. Secretary of Transportation, has visited Las Vegas twice to promote the DesertXpress train with Reid. But while the Obama administration has announced funding for various high-speed trains across the nation, the DesertXpress, which will be both privately and publicly funded, has not made it to the list of projects receiving federal help.