weather icon Clear

Clark County vows support of Virgin Trains’ planned bond request

Updated December 4, 2019 - 3:34 pm

Clark County officials vowed Tuesday to support the financing plan Virgin Trains is set to submit to the state for its high-speed rail project from Las Vegas to Southern California.

The County Commission unanimously voted to endorse Virgin’s plan to obtain industrial development bond financing from the state Department of Business and Industry for the $4.8 billion project.

Virgin is seeking $950 million in total private activity bonds in Nevada, including $200 million in bonds from the state’s debt limit allocation — which would allow Virgin to market $800 million in bonds — and $150 million through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s bond program.

California approved a $3.25 billion bond request last month to support the project.

Commissioner Michael Naft, who has been a vocal supporter of the project, highlighted the benefits the project would bring to the Las Vegas Valley.

“We’re talking about more than 1,000 (construction) jobs in Clark County,” Naft said. “Once the train station is open and operational, there will be a continuation of about 400 Clark County (resident) employees working on site.”

Naft also said there is talk of possibly bringing a Virgin Trains office to the valley.

Just 35 miles of the 170-mile rail project would run through Nevada — from the California state line near Primm to Las Vegas Boulevard between Blue Diamond and Warm Springs roads. The remaining 135 miles of track will run in California to the Victorville area, where the California station will be located. Long-term plans call for an extension into the Los Angeles area.

Virgin Trains must file an application with the county for approval of findings under the county’s private activity bond and volume cap policy and guidelines. The company must agree to pay all the county’s expenses in processing the application and conducting the investigation.

Virgin will have to deposit $50,000 with the county treasurer to be used as an advance on the amounts needed to pay expenses related to the approval of findings process. Any amount of that deposit not used will be returned to Virgin once the board makes a final determination regarding the findings.

“We appreciate the support of Clark County as we work to connect Las Vegas and Southern California by rail,” said Virgin spokesman Ben Porritt. “Our project is already making an investment in Clark County, building a Nevada-based team focused on delivering a mobility option that will take cars off the road (and) lead to the creation of thousands of jobs and significant environmental benefits for the state.”

The show of support highlights the county is not responsible for any financial support tied to the project and the proposed bonds.

The bonds were to be discussed at a Department of Business meeting last month, but Terry Reynolds, the department’s director, said that discussion was canceled because members could not attend.

Several smaller meetings have been set up with various state departments, the governor’s office and the county, Reynolds said, to ensure everything is in place for the bond request, which could be filed as early as next month’s state Board of Finance meeting.

“Our purview as the state is involved is really just with the actual mechanics of the bond,” Reynolds said.

If the bond requests are finalized early next year, Virgin plans to break ground on the project later that year. The project is expected to be completed in 2023.

“Everything is looking good so far,” Reynolds said.

Contact Mick Akers at makers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2920. Follow @mickakers on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
Joe Biden at the national hospitality workers union.
Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden speaks to members of the national hospitality workers union during UNITE HERE's town hall on Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019 at Culinary Union Hall in Las Vegas. @bizutesfaye
Elizabeth Warren at Culinary Union
Elizabeth Warren speaks at a Culinary Union town hall in Las Vegas on Dec. 9, 2019.
Secretary of Education visits Henderson school
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos visited students at Pinecrest Academy in Henderson to talk about college planning on Dec. 4, 2019. (Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trump dropped from Terry Fator’s show on Las Vegas Strip - VIDEO
Fator has edited out one prominent figure: President Donald Trump, a focal point of Fator’s regular stage show and also Christmas show over the past 3½ years. The Trump puppet, with his pop-up hairpiece, has been sidelined from both shows until further notice. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Accused murder mastermind Frank LaPena is granted a pardon - VIDEO
A onetime Las Vegas casino bell captain who spent 25 years in prison as the accused mastermind in a notorious 1974 contract murder won his last legal battle for freedom Wednesday when the state Pardons Board granted him a conditional pardon restoring all his civil rights. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Middle: Nonpartisan voters and the 2020 election
How will the growing segment of nonpartisan or independent voters — those who have not registered with either political party, or who have left partisan politics behind — vote in 2020?
Tomi Lahren Speaks at UNLV - VIDEO
Fox News contributor and UNLV alumna Tomi Lahren returned to campus Wednesday night for a speech, titled “Stay Triggered,” that drew an auditorium of supporters as well as a group of protesters outside. (James Schaeffer/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders released from Las Vegas hospital - VIDEO
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., issues a statement after he was released from Desert Springs Hospital Medical Center on Friday, Oct. 4, 2019, after suffering a heart attack earlier in the week. (Bernie Sanders via Twitter)
Democratic presidential candidates speak on impeachment - VIDEO
Democratic presidential candidates attending the March for Our Lives/Giffords Gun Safety Forum in Las Vegas comment on possible impeachment proceedings. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Joe Biden Las Vegas Rally Highlights - VIDEO
2020 presidential candidate, Joe Biden, came to Las Vegas to talk guns, climate change and the Ukranian-Trump scandal. Biden was interrupted by a protestor who sat amongst supporters at the rally and continued with his speech. (Angus Kelly & James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Joe Biden comments on Trump and his campaign efforts in Nevada - VIDEO
After an impeachment inquiry was opened on Donald Trump, Joe Biden talks with Review-Journal politics reporter Rory Appleton about Trump and his campaign in Nevada. (Angus Kelly & James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)