Plans for a new high-speed rail line that will connect Southern California to Las Vegas are forging ahead after the project has been awarded another critical public funding allocation. The XpressWest rail project has won $200 million of private activity bonds from the Nevada State Board of Finance. The Nevada award comes after a California committee, overseen by California Treasurer Fiona Ma, awarded the project $600 million of private activity bonds in April.
To raise additional funds for the transportation project, both state allocations allow the company to sell up to four times the value of the awards as tax-exempt bonds to private investors. This means that the project has the ability to raise an additional $800 million from the Nevada award and as much as $2.4 billion from the California award.
On track to break ground by the end of 2020, the high-speed rail line will be built along an existing government-owned right-of-way through the desert along Interstate 15. The first phase of the route will connect the 170 miles between Las Vegas and Southern California’s Victor Valley; expansion to Los Angeles will follow in a separate phase.
The project is being built by Brightline, which currently operates the nation’s only privately-owned express passenger rail line, connecting Florida’s West Palm Beach to Miami. Brightline spokesman Ben Porritt says the Las Vegas to Los Angeles project will take about three years to complete and “will create a total of 30,000 construction jobs and 1,000 permanent jobs in the neighboring states once the line is up and running.”
The high-speed line has been praised by many as a green alternative of travel between the two destinations. California State Treasurer Fiona Ma says the route will “transform transportation in Southern California and Las Vegas for generations by providing a fast and efficient connection that gets people out of their cars, reduces traffic congestion, and decreases air pollution.”
If the project goes as planned, by 2023 the train will be transporting as many as 10 million passengers annually from Las Vegas to the Los Angeles region in 85 minutes at speeds of up to 200 miles an hour.