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LV-LA high-speed rail system gets more support from Rosen

Updated August 18, 2023 - 8:47 pm

Sen. Jacky Rosen is the latest Nevada politician to urge federal transportation leaders to earmark nearly $4 billion in grants for the Las Vegas-to-Los Angeles high-speed rail project.

Brightline and the Nevada Department of Transportation this year jointly applied for a $3.75 billion grant from the Federal-State Partnership for Intercity Passenger Rail Grant program, which would go toward the planned rail line spanning 218 miles between Southern Nevada and Southern California.

Rosen, Brightline CEO Mike Reininger, NDOT Director Tracy Larkin-Thomason and Clark County Commissioner Michael Naft were among a group of dignitaries Friday in Las Vegas pushing the federal government to award the shovel-ready project the funding boost.

Brightline West’s project meets all of the needs and objectives of the federal grant program, which has Reininger hopeful they will net their full ask.

“The delivery against all of those objectives drove the total project composition and what we believe is a fair support level of $3.75 billion, about 30 percent of the total costs of the project,” Reininger said. “We are confident that amount, relative to the total project cost, is a fair and equitable amount and we’re confident that will be seen by the Department of Transportation and we’ll be successful in that award.”

The system would connect stations in Las Vegas and Rancho Cucamonga via high-speed rail, with a station also planned in between in California’s Apple Valley and Hesperia. Passengers would have access into and out of L.A. via the Metrolink rail system at the Rancho Cucamonga station.

Rosen, D-Nev., sent a letter Thursday reiterating her “strong support” for the $12 billion project to the U.S. Department of Transportation and to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, hoping they would back it similarly. Rosen requested the department fund the full $3.75 billion request in their joint application.

Seeing progress

In the letter, Rosen also highlighted the milestones the project has hit in recent months:

* The Transportation Department in June awarding $25 million to go toward designing and building the Apple Valley and Hesperia stations.

* The Federal Railroad Administration in July finding no significant environmental impacts of the Apple Valley to Rancho Cucamonga portion of the rail.

* The Clark County Commission in August unanimously approving a resolution supporting the Brightline project.

At peak, Brightline projects the rail line will eliminate 700 million vehicles miles traveled and 16,000 short haul flights annually.

“I see weekly the congestion and the barrier that the congestion on the I-15 is for visitors from our most vital tourism partner, Southern California,” Naft said. “We can not simply tolerate it again and again, weekend after weekend, mass event style congestion on the 15. I believe this project will help ease that congestion.”

This week Larkin-Thomason noted she expected the agency’s decision on the grant application would land in September.

‘No better project for this grant’

Brightline would be ready to break ground on the project by the end of the year if the full grant request is approved.

“I can tell you this, that there’s no better project for this grant than Brightline,” Rosen said. “We are shovel-ready. We are a top tourist destination, not just in (our) country, but around the world. From day one, especially opening with the Olympics, this project, this train will have people in the seats every single train ride. This project is destined for success because of what we have built here in Las Vegas.”

The goal of having the system up and running in time for the 2028 Olympic games in Los Angeles would create symmetry with other high-speed rail projects that also opened with previous Olympics in Japan and China, Reininger said.

“So the idea that we get this first American high-peed rail system built in time for the opening of the Olympics is sort of a poetic and ambitious target,” Reininger said. “We are now on the precipice of actual action toward making things happen.”

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

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