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Las Vegas Monorail Company set for another push to expand

Updated November 3, 2017 - 8:58 am

Clark County soon might give the Las Vegas Monorail Company permission to extend its route along the Strip.

After a nearly nine-month hiatus, the monorail company is scheduled to appear before county commissioners Wednesday to request land-use permits for a 1-mile extension south from MGM Grand to Luxor and Mandalay Bay resorts.

The monorail company also will seek the commission’s permission to continue drawing from a long-standing escrow account to pay for design and engineering costs while financing is acquired for the more than $100 million project.

Monorail spokeswoman Ingrid Reisman said the company would not give any interviews on the project until after the meeting Wednesday.

Expansion plans forming

Talks of expanding the monorail to connect convention centers along the Strip have been occurring for close to two years.

Urgency for the project was renewed after planners said the monorail could be a public transportation option for pedestrians traveling to a NFL stadium being built west of Mandalay Bay. In July the monorail company paid $2.5 million for a 35-unit apartment complex sitting on a 0.9 acre plot at 93 E. Reno Ave., which is expected to lie in the monorail’s new route. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)

But the project has been delayed while the monorail company has revised the new route.

The route proposed a year ago had to be changed because it could damage or block a water pipeline vital to the Strip. The Southern Nevada Water Authority is OK with the new route, agency spokesman Bronson Mack said.

The new route would place support footings on McCarran International Airport property along the south side of Reno Avenue that is leased to Atlantic Aviation and The Ribeiro Companies.

Airport spokesman Chris Jones said the monorail company must reach agreements with those businesses and receive approval of its plans by the Federal Aviation Administration before the extension can be built.

“Any approval next week would be conditional on the resolving the issues, and that’s currently a work in progress,” Jones wrote in an email.

Atlantic Aviation and The Ribeiro Companies did not return the Review-Journal’s request for comment Thursday, but Reisman wrote in the email that the monorail company is working with the two companies and the FAA.

Project needs funding

How the monorail extension will be financed is unknown, but the company plans to pay for costs leading up to the construction by borrowing money from a “doomsday account” meant to pay for the demolition of the monorail should it ever need to be removed.

The account was established in 2000 with $6 million. In May 2016 the county allowed the monorail company to begin withdrawing the account’s interest earnings to pay for the design and engineering of a route expansion. That agreement expired in March.

The monorail company will ask commissioners for permission to continue withdrawing the interest earnings through March 31, 2018. County CFO Jessica Colvin said about $800,000 remains.

Any money withdrawn collects interest at a rate of 4 percent a year. If financing for the extension is not closed before July, the proposed agreement states the monorail company will begin making monthly repayments of $16,666.

The monorail company is also asking commissioners to sign a resolution that would allow the company to ask the county for up to $4.5 million a year in excess resort corridor room tax revenues to pay for the maintenance of monorail track if no other money is available.

“It’s at the (county commission’s) absolute full discretion to say yes or no,” Colvin said.

Contact Michael Scott Davidson at sdavidson@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3861. Follow @davidsonlvrj on Twitter.

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