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Southern California to Vegas bullet train sees bipartisan support

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A bipartisan group of lawmakers asked Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg for funding to build a high-speed rail line between hubs in Nevada and California. 

The Monday letter was signed in support of the Nevada Transportation Department's application for a Federal Railroad Administration intercity passenger rail grant, asking for the money through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. 

The Brightline West high-speed rail system along the "congested" Interstate 15 corridor would link Las Vegas to Los Angeles and San Bernardino County. 

The private company's project includes an estimated $10 billion in economic impact and $1 billion in tax revenue. 


An illustration of the Brightline West High Speed Rail project train

This undated illustration provided by Brightline West shows an illustration of the Brightline West High Speed Rail project train from Las Vegas to Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. ((Brightline West via AP) / AP Newsroom)

The six Nevadans and four House members from California said the rail operator would's plan would create more than 35,000 construction jobs and approximately 1,000 permanent jobs – including a commitment through a memorandum of understanding to ensure the creation of "good-paying union jobs."

In recent weeks, the Brightline and Southern Nevada Building Trades Union will be used during construction.

They touted increases in visitorship and opportunities for ancillary development around stations, and said that the system aligns with the Biden administration's climate goals, diverting millions of vehicle users from the interstate and 400,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions. 

Foreground on Victorville, Calif.

The site, foreground, on the outskirts of Victorville, Calif., of a proposed station for a high-speed rail line to Las Vegas, is seen with Interstate 15 in the background, on Jan. 25, 2012.  ((AP Photo/Reed Saxon, File) / AP Newsroom)


"This unprecedented funding opportunity for intercity high-speed rail will unleash private investment at a critical moment for our nation, demonstrating the potential for public-private partnerships and planting a flag for American high-speed rail," the authors said. "Brightline West will serve as a powerful example of the possibilities of high-speed rail for other cities and regions and is well-positioned to advance the U.S. Department of Transportation’s priorities related to multigenerational infrastructure investments, job creation, equity and climate change resiliency and sustainability."

A Brightline train in Florida

FILE – A Brightline train is shown at a station in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Jan. 11, 2018. A ((AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File) / AP Newsroom)

The bipartisan group was led by Democratic Nevada Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto and Jacky Rosen. Republicans include Rep. Mark Amodei and Jay Obernolte.

Brightline, a Florida-based company already operates a Miami-area fast train, is seeking $3.75 billion under the infrastructure law.


The project could be "the blueprint for how we can connect major city pairs that are too short to fly and too far to drive," Mike Reininger, CEO of Brightline Holdings LLC, the only privately owned and operated intercity passenger railroad in the U.S., told The Associated Press. 

Amtrak passenger service to Las Vegas ended in 1997, but the concept of a bullet train through the Mojave Desert dates back to at least 2005.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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