LA-to-Vegas high speed line set to break ground next year

The I-15 in Las Vegas (Ken Lund/CC BY-SA 2.0)
Brightline West, the company building a high-speed rail line between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, is planning to begin work on its line next year, according to the Las Vegas Review Journal.

The $8bn project, which was originally scheduled to break ground in 2020 (see further reading), will have stations in Victorville, Hesperia and Rancho Cucamonga, where a connection with the Metrolink will connect with downtown Los Angeles.

The first phase of the line will be built along the Interstate 15. Trains will travel a distance of 298km at speeds up to 240km/h, which would cut the journey time between the two cities to 75 minutes.

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) recently released an environmental assessment for the Victor Valley and Rancho Cucamonga that found the line would not affect the environment or low-income or minority populations.

Responding to the report, Brightline commented that the line had the potential to remove millions of cars from the I-15. “The environmental assessment underscores the positive environmental impact of utilizing the I-15 for high-speed rail and is a significant step in the process to receive the key approval to begin construction,” it said.

The FRA is presently collecting public comments on this section of the line, and approval is expected to be decided in March. The line between Las Vegas and Victorville has already been approved.

As well as the line itself, there will be a 6,000 sq m terminal in Las Vegas that would be constructed on land owned by Fortress Investment Group, Brightline’s ultimate owner.

Funding for the line will come from a mix of federal grants and private activity bonds that Brightline would apply for in both Nevada and California.

The project may also benefit from last year’s infrastructure bill; details of disbursements for rail projects are to be released by the end of the year.

If the line does begin next year, completion is expected by 2027.

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