High-speed rail lines and the trains that accompany them have been a hot topic, especially in Congress. U.S. Representative Dina Titus is one of many members of Congress that are pushing to get federal help to make this type of transportation a reality. One particular proposed project is a high-speed rail line from Southern California to a destination close to the Las Vegas Strip. Titus is pushing federal officials to look into and action the cap increase on private activity bonds.
Now serving in Congress, Titus was once a legislator in Nevada. She has shown immense support for a high-speed train route to Las Vegas coming from Los Angeles. Titus said that the proponents of the project have been trying to get the Ways and Means committee to raise the cap on some of the bonds that they have applied for to fund the construction of the rail line in Nevada. The project she is referring to is a proposal from Brightline West. The company is looking to construct a train that goes up to 200-mph and the rail line needed to do so. The electric-powered train would come from Apple Valley, California to Las Vegas and would eventually be the faster train in the country.
Titus and the other congressional proponents of the project have not been the only ones to reach out to federal officials on the matter. Mike Reininger, the CEO of Brightline Holdings has also reached out and asked that the private activity bonds’ annual volume cap be raised from 15 billion USD to 30 billion USD. According to the company’s website, the initial 15 billion USD has already been used. A hearing was held in early May by the House Committee of Transportation and Infrastructure to discuss the project.
What is known about the project, is that if it is built it will take commuters about three hours to cover a distance of 170 miles along Interstate 15. Additionally, anyone choosing to use the high-speed train would pay 60 USD for a one-way trip. Officials at Brightline optimistically said that the company is expected to start construction at the beginning of July. However, conflicting reports state that Representative Titus was told by Phillip Washington that the construction is likely to start in approximately 12 months. Washington is a representative from the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
Support to construct a high-speed railway service in the U.S. was urged on by President Joe Biden shortly after he took office in 2021. The president’s interest in the infrastructural upgrade came from a conversation he had with Xi Jinping, the President of the Republic of China. Biden noted that China already has a train and rail that travels up to 225-mph with ease and that the country is investing billions in the development of this type of transportation and other needs to improve infrastructure. He added that the U.S. needs to get moving before China eats the U.S. lunch.
The president recently attended a media event to seek support for his plan to improve the country’s infrastructure in Lake Charles, Louisiana. The infrastructure plan would cost 2.3 trillion USD to get underway and complete. Lake Charles is a region that requires assistance to improve its infrastructure given that the region was struck by 2 deadly hurricanes in 2020. Several Lake Charles’ casinos were also damaged during the storms that happened weeks apart.
One of the major selling points for the high-speed railway line is that it would significantly reduce traffic congestion in and out of Las Vegas. Even so, there haven’t been many investors speaking about making the idea a reality. Representative Peter DeFazio who is the US House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chairman said in a hearing last week that there has been virtually nothing invested in high-speed rail service and that when nothing is invested then nothing is received.
The outcry for better transportation solutions from Las Vegas tourism officials has been going on for decades. Especially when it comes to transportation from Southern California directly to Las Vegas. Problems on the I-15 have always been prevalent where traffic is always backed up, causing long delays as visitors from California make their way home, especially on Sundays. Aside from the high-speed railway service, other transportation efforts are being considered as well, along the same route. Another recent proposal came from Amtrak to construct a passenger line on the route, but no further information on whether or not the proposal would be funded has been released as yet.